Peer Mentors Help Freshmen Find Their Way
August 11, 2015
Getting acclimated to a new university can be an overwhelming experience for an incoming freshman. Students are trying to make new friends, find ways to manage the inevitable pressure of new and higher expectations, and establish new routines that support their success.
One of the ways we have tried to make the transition to college less stressful and more welcoming for freshmen is through the Smart Start experience. One of the keys to success for Smart Start is the group of dedicated students known as Peer Mentors. These are students who help the freshmen learn what it means to be part of Jaguar Nation.
As a Peer Mentor, sophomore Juan Gutierrez knows he has a responsibility to answer questions, give guidance and support, and generally make the freshmen students he meets feel at home.
It was Juan's own experience as a freshman last year that made him want to become a Peer Mentor. "My Peer Mentor was Derek Brown and he really helped me to fit in here at GSU. He inspired me to want to help the freshmen this year," Juan said. Derek apparently did a good job of making Juan feel at home at GSU. Juan was a recipient of the Rising Star Award in last spring's Student Leadership Awards Banquet sponsored by Student Senate.
As for the Peer Mentor experience, Juan said he would definitely recommend it to the freshmen he is helping today. "I think being a Peer Mentor is helping me develop as a person. I've made a lot of friends through the program and I'm making a lot of new freshmen friends today," he said.
The Smart Start program began Monday, Aug. 10 and runs through Friday, Aug. 21. Students in the Smart Start program were selected by faculty based on a combination of GPA, ACT scores and/or high school grades that suggested Smart Start would serve as the perfect way to get started in college. The program helps students strengthen their academic skills, develop a peer support network, and familiarize themselves with GSU and its resources. Smart Start students are enrolled in an English program and/or a mathematics program, as well as the first-year student seminar called Mastering College.
In addition to the academic programs offered, Smart Start students can participate in a variety of fun and social activities.