The Student-to-Student Mentoring Program

The Student-to-Student Mentoring Program, which was begun by ESF student Sarah Spooner in 2003, is a student-run peer mentoring program which links new first-year students to returning ESF students in a mentoring relationship. The mentors are guided by a leadership team that includes two head mentors, veteran mentors, a faculty member, and a Student Affairs staff person.

Student-to-Student mentors help new students adapt to the ESF community through informal interactions and by sharing their tips for academic and personal success. This mentorship program requires Orientation Leader training and a semester-long commitment on the part of the upper class student mentors.

About the course

This course is designed to give ESF students a chance to work on their leadership skills by mentoring first year students, giving them a chance to continue using the training they received during Orientation to serve the ESF community. Mentors will attend weekly staff meetings, participate in discussions of first year student concerns, and write reflective pieces about their experiences.

Mentors are assigned to a specific group of first year students, usually grouped by where they live. The mentor's responsibility is to help these students adjust to college life and become active members of the ESF community. Regular meetings between mentors and mentees provide a direct connection for new students to communicate with upper class students. Our expectation is that the meetings will be informal and fun, and that mentors will serve as a role models to the first year students.

Course Requirements

Staff meetings for mentors: In addition to the meetings that mentors attend during Orientation, they are required to attend approximately 10 staff meetings during the semester. We expect mentors to contribute ideas and feedback at these staff meetings. This gives mentors a chance to help shape the first year experience at ESF.

Meetings with small group: Mentors will be responsible for organizing activities and meeting times for their mentees, using email, facebook, text messaging, or whatever means agree upon. The assigned group of first year students will be floor specific. We are asking that mentors meet with their group of mentees at least once each week during September.

Mentors are encouraged to attend and participate in the September all-day retreats with their mentees as well. Planning the rest of the meetings is up to individual mentors and their mentees. Mentors can take their group to a campus event such as free movie Thursday or a club meeting. They can take them to a soccer game or cross-country meet or Ultimate tournament. They can meet for a meal or take a tour of Marshall Street. They can go apple picking or take mentees to a pumpkin farm. They can meet informally in the residence hall. Mentors are encouraged to take advantage of events at ESF, at SU, or in the Syracuse community.

Written work for the course

We encourage mentors to post to our shared journal. The journal will give all the mentors a chance to read what other mentors are doing and act as a support group to provide help and guidance along the way. Contributions to the journal can be reflections on mentors' experiences with their mentees. What concerns do the first year students have? What questions did they ask? What problems are they having socially or academically? What event did you attend? What was the reaction of the students? What might we do differently next year?

October: Group project is due. You will be working with the other mentors who are assigned to your floor to come up with some way of reflecting on your experience and presenting your ideas to the larger group.

November: Reflective paper due. In a couple of pages, analyze your participation in this program and what you have learned from the experience. Your emphasis should be on what you've learned, but you may also evaluate what the first year students have learned and suggest changes for next year.

Expected program outcomes

1.     The mentoring program helps establish a core group of student leaders who know each other, work together, and have been trained in such things as diversity awareness. The program gives student mentors a chance to develop the skills they learned during their Orientation Leader training.
2.     The mentors serve as positive role models to the first-year students, which helps them achieve academic, personal, and social success.
3.     The mentors establish a rapport with their mentees that allows them to share their experiences as well as their tips for personal and academic success, and helps them make a smooth transition from high school to college.
4.     Mentors offer first-year students on-going support through phone calls, emails, text messages, and personal meetings.
5.     Mentors encourage first-year students to attend events on campus that provide opportunities for informal interactions with other members of the campus community.
6.     Mentors help first-year students will find the things on campus that will prepare them for who they want to be after college. This could mean telling them about a club, bringing them to a lecture, introducing them to a professor, or showing them where they can find out about internships.
7.     Mentors help first-year students learn the traditions, etiquette, academic expectations, and social norms of the ESF campus community.
8.     Mentors help first-year students understand the importance of getting involved with the campus community and the importance of taking responsibility and initiative for their development.
9.     Mentors help first-year students find the ESF clubs and activities that are a good fit for them.
10.   Mentors encourage first-year students to see that curricular learning and student development are intertwined.
11.   Mentors help first-year students find campus resources and services that they might need for personal and academic success.
12.  Mentors take first-year students off campus to experience the larger community and explore the environment of upstate New York. These activities could include apple picking, pumpkin picking, white rafting, canoeing, paintball, birding, or hiking.
13.  Mentors support
a.     the First-year Experience team by helping out with such events as the retreat or encouraging first-year students to attend lectures and activities set up by the First-year Experience Team.
b.     the Office of Student Affairs by helping out with events for which student volunteers are needed.
c.     the Program for Community Service by volunteering as drivers for off-campus community service projects.
d.     the RA staff in Centennial Hall by encouraging students to attend RA programs and collaborating with the RAs.

Outcomes: the short list

For the student mentors:
Leadership – establish core of student leaders
Role Models – for first years students
Volunteers — help out with FYE, Student Affairs, Community Service, 132s, etc.

For the first years student:
Transition – from high school to college
Integrate – first year students into campus community
Get them involved — clubs and activities
Culture & Etiquette — of ESF campus community
Support — conversations, emails, text messages, personal meetings
Connect — students to services and resources on campus
Explore – larger community, activities off-campus

If you miss a meeting

Mentors are expected to attend all staff meetings. We do understand, however, that you might sometimes have a legitimate reason to miss a meeting, such as a class, a doctor's appointment, a job interview, a test, or a meeting.

If you miss a meeting, it's your responsibility to find out what happened at that meeting. The head mentors will be posting minutes from each meeting on this blog. Allow 24 hours for the minutes to get posted, go to the blog and read the minutes, and then add a comment so that we know you've read them. Just a quick comment like, "I was in physics class during the meeting, but I've read the minutes" is sufficient. Then talk to either of the head mentors if you have questions or something to contribute.

Standards & Expectations

Standards & Expectations

The mentors, because they are considered leaders and role models, are held to a high standard of behavior. These standards include:

  1. Mentors expected to monitor their own behavior to be in compliance with the SUNY-ESF Code of Student Conduct.
  2. Mentors will not use the mentoring relationship to exploit mentees in any way.
  3. Although mentors are not expected to police the behavior of the first year students, they are, as a group, expected to hold their fellow mentors to high standards of behavior.
  4. Mentors should not encourage or invite first year students to any activity that would violate the SUNY-ESF Code of Student Conduct.
  5. Although for the most part, mentors can hold whatever the first year students tell them in confidence, any mentor who becomes aware of a situation that is dangerous or harmful is expected to report that problem to the appropriate Student Affairs staff person.
  6. Mentors are expected to respect the confidential nature of any information about first year students that might be shared at a staff meeting.

Duties and Responsibilities

  1. Mentors are expected to meet with first year students or take them to an event at least once per week during September. They can take their group to a campus event such as free movie Thursday or a club meeting or an Insomniac event.They can take them to a soccer game or cross-country meet or Ultimate tournament. They can meet for a meal or attend an RA-sponsored event in Centennial. Mentors are encouraged to take advantage of events at ESF, at SU, or in the Syracuse community.
  2. The mentors are expected to provide their first year students with a way of contacting them. This could be an email address, a cell phone number, a facebook page, etc.
  3. During the first six weeks of the semester, mentor are expected to hold “mentoring hours” by making themselves available in a designated place such as a lounge in Centennial or a table in Gateway.
  4. Mentors are expected to attend mentoring meetings, which will be held weekly during September and biweekly for October and November. These meetings will be a time for troubleshooting problems, making plans, assessing the program, and learning leadership skills. The head mentor will post minutes/reminders to the mentor listserv and will communicate with any mentor who can’t attend due to a class conflict.
  5. Veteran mentors are expected to mentor new mentors by taking the lead at meetings. This could mean planning events that include the first year students such as apple picking or a visit to a pumpkin farm, or planning a “leadershop” to help the other mentors learn leadership skills.
  6. Mentors are expected to complete a collaborative project which will have a positive impact on the first year students. For example, a “Save your semester” program to help the students get on the right track to finish their semester with passing grades. These projects will be led by veteran mentors and supported by first year mentors.

Notes from our meeting -- what does a mentor do?

Our goals:
To motivate and inspire first year students.
To be role models.
To be peer advisors.
To help first year students make a smooth transition from high school to college
To introduce first year students to clubs and activities on campus.
To help integrate first year students into the ESF community.

How we do this:
• Our goal is for the students to succeed academically, socially, and emotionally.
• We’re more accessible to students than faculty or staff members can be. We have no authority, but we can offer advice.
• We take first year students to events on campus that provide opportunities for informal interactions.
• We are not in a supervisory position over the first year students, but we’re aware that we need to monitor our own behavior to be good role models.
• We provide the means for the first students to interact with other students so that they become part of the ESF community.
• We are peer advisors. Student can come to us with questions about courses, about campus activities, about life. We share tips about personal and academic success.
• We help first year students find the things on campus that will prepare them for who they want to be after college. This could mean telling them about a club, bringing them to a lecture, introducing them to a professor, or showing them where they can find out about internships.
• We help out with events established by the First Year Experience team, like the fall retreats.
• We collaborate and communicate with the RA staff in Centennial Hall and support them whenever we can since we have similar goals.