mentors play an integral role in helping new students make the transition from
high school to college. This year, Hardin-Simmons University has increased the
number of First Year Seminars from a mere handful to 23, which has
allowed more students to step into the role of mentor.
Peer mentors are there to connect with the students, provide them
with helpful resources and fulfill the needs of the instructor. The program has proved
successful so far and has, in some ways, exceeded expectations. These students
are only required to put in five hours a week, yet Megan Baldree, associate dean
of students, praises them for putting in more hours than necessary.
“They put in a significant amount of face-to-face contact with
students, which has been impressive,” Baldree said.
In addition, some instructors have trusted their peer mentors to
lead class discussions and grade assignments.
First Year Seminars are meant to challenge students to learn and
grow in areas they are interested in, so it is helpful and inspiring for first
year students to connect with a fellow peer who has gone before and excelled. Baldree
sees a peer mentor as someone who is able to fulfill three roles.
“They must be positive and connect well with other students,”
Peer mentors are depended upon to check in on students and make
sure all of them are doing okay. This is especially important now as most
First Year Seminars are at or above 20 students.
Second, they must be academically driven. A peer mentor must be a
person who students can go to for academic knowledge in addition to social advice,
so it helps if they care about and enjoy school.
“They must be organized and
able to stay on top of multiple moving parts,” Baldree said.
As with any job, time
management and hard work are important to be successful and make a significant
Being a peer mentor offers an
opportunity to make a difference in the lives of incoming students who may
struggle to adjust to the many new challenges they face in college settings. Helping
them through this transition can be challenging but also rewarding.
If you believe you have the three traits Megan described and would
be interested in becoming a peer mentor next year, there are a few steps to
take. The Student Life Common Application will be made available soon. Soon
after, the Peer Mentor application will be out. Fill out both of those and
interviews will follow.