Peer Mentoring Program at BSC Gives New Students Help and Support
One hundred fifty-one new students at Bluefield State College are taking advantage of a new program, designed to make their entry into higher education a positive experience. A "peer mentor' program matches these students with upperclassmen, based on a shared academic or hobby interest. Then, as the semester begins, these new students have someone to talk to--about a variety of challenges and concerns. The idea for the program was first expressed by BSC Student Support Services (SSS) Director Kathy Epperly, and was implemented through the effort of SSS counselor Ewanna Wiley. "A lot of freshmen need help, particularly early in the semester," Wiley observed. "The peer mentor program gives these students someone on campus who can answer questions or refer the students to the proper office so their concerns can be addressed." The peer mentor program's services were detailed for new BSC students during two summer orientations, and the program was implemented in August. "We're encouraged that 151 new students have signed up," Wiley continued. "Our mentors are returning students who have earned good grades and have demonstrated a willingness to take part in campus life. They represent a variety of academic majors and college organizations, and they've taken part in mentor-training workshops." Points of emphasis in the peer mentor program include assisting new students in use of the college catalog, and instruction in how they may utilize academic advising services the college provides. "The mentors sent 'get-acquainted' letters to their 'mentees' this summer," Wiley added. "We're hopeful even more new students will take advantage of the program. Typically, the need for help from the mentor diminishes as the new student gains confidence during the semester. However, a friendly assist from a fellow student early in a semester can go a long way in helping a new student enjoy a successful start in college." The peer mentor program provides network opportunities for new students, Wiley summarized. "Our mentors are a very willing and helpful resource we already have on site," she said.