8 Steps in Administering a Peer Mentoring Program

New college students often feel overwhelmed and intimidated, especially at large schools. University-wide mentoring programs are a great way to help students get acclimated to their new environment. A mentor can show freshman and transfer students where their classes are, where to get meals, where to go for academic help, and can help them utilize other resources on campus. However, matching a mentor and protege (as we call new students and transfers) is not a simple or quick process. Here are eight steps our university uses in order to administer and nuture the mentoring relationship:
1. Applying to be a mentor:
All of our mentors first turn in an application to the mentoring office. The application asks for some personal information (address, phone number, e-mail, etc.), the mentors major and GPA (a certain GPA is required to be a mentor), their hobbies, the activities they are involved in on campus, and it also asks questions about how often the mentor wants to contact the protege. Many mentors are extremely busy and only have time to help the new students about once a month. That’s fine because the mentors are unpaid volunteers; we can’t force them to do anything. Also, once new students feel comfortable, once a month seems to be sufficient for many of them.
2. Requesting a mentor:
While every new student CAN have a mentor, none of them HAVE to have one. In order to have a mentor, the new student needs to fill out a request form, which asks for the same information as the mentor application (with the exception of the students’ GPA). The mentor requesting process occurs either at their orientation or once they get to school in the fall.  
3. Matching mentors and proteges:
Throughout the summer, the mentoring directors spend countless hours going through each application in order to match students. They usually match them based on major and school activities. This is because most majors have specific requirements and deadlines that only someone else in the major would be able to help the new students with.  However, some new students have special requests such as gender, race, sexual orientation, hometown, or amount of contact wanted.  
4. Starting the mentor/protege relationship:
Once a mentor and protege are matched, the protege’s information is emailed to the mentor. The mentor then contacts the protege (this is usually sometime in July) and asks if they have any questions about placement tests, roommates, living situation, meal plans, etc. From this point until school starts, the mentor usually contacts the protege about once a week. The proteges are nervous and excited and often have tons of questions! From a mentor standpoint, it’s really fun to see how excited the new students are!  In many instances, new students will express their concerns with their mentors. That’s exactly why we’re here for them! They stress about not getting along with a roommate, how to study for their first tests, and just about anything else that may be of concern for them. Mentors are seasoned college students and can guide the proteges to helpful resources.
5. Mentoring during the proteges’ first semester:
After about three weeks, the proteges start to find their niche on campus. They have less questions and begin to try to find things out on their own. Mentors usually back off a little bit and let the proteges become independent. However, we still contact the proteges about every 10 – 14 days to see how things are going with classes, roommates, etc. One of the most stressful times of the students’ first semester is scheduling for the spring semester. Mentors are a great resource for that because they have done this multiple times before.
6. Mentoring during the proteges’ second semester:
At this point, most of the proteges are on their own and don’t need much help. The mentoring office still sends out weekly emails with helpful campus information and resources. Mentors and Peer Mentoring Coordinators still contact the proteges to see how things are progressing with their classes. Once the school year ends, the mentor is no longer responsible for answering the proteges’ questions. However, most mentors and proteges remain friends throughout their time at college. For most proteges, their mentor was their “first friend,” and they continue their relationship outside of the program. 
7. Peer Mentoring Coordinators:
As mentioned previously, the mentoring department has “Peer Mentoring Coordinators.” These individuals are student workers that are responsible for facilitating the relationship between the mentors and proteges. They send out the weekly emails and about every two weeks they contact either the mentor or the protege to get their prospective on the relationship. They ask if the mentor has contacted the protege (to make sure that the relationship has been established), if they have met in person, and if the mentor is helpful. If the mentor and protege give the same report, we assume everything is working out and check in less frequently. If the mentor and protege give conflicting information, we try to work out the issue. If the issue cannot be resolved, we reassign a new mentor for the protege.  
8. Role Modeling and Personal Conduct:
As a mentor, it is important to lead by example. In college, new students pay close attention to the actions of older students. It is important to be mindful of your comments as well as your actions. Using profane language or gossiping about people is a bad example to set for new students.  It is also inappropriate to break the law by consuming illegal substances or behaving in an out of control manner. These are all inappropriate behaviors that we do not want to pass on to new students. While we encourage the new students to get involved on campus and do fun things, we also encourage all of the university students to make sound decisions. Good mentors with positive attitudes and behaviors are a vital aspect of university settings.
This program is intended for freshmen and transfer students.  It is all about them and what they need to have a successful first year at school. In addition, mentoring is a rewarding activity for older students. Becoming a mentor was important to me so that I could help new students, and I’d encourage you to do the same.
Hayley Simpson is from Pittsburgh, PA and is a senior Sport Management major at California University of PA.  She worked in the university’s athletic department for about two years and then decided to work in the mentoring department as a Peer Mentoring Coordinator.  She was also a volunteer mentor for two years.  She is still involved with the athletic department as well as the Sports Management Club. You can follow Hayley on Twitter @Hay2422 or email her at SIM0489@calu.edu.

1 thought on “8 Steps in Administering a Peer Mentoring Program

  1. Marwane

    Thank you Chelsea. I would say neither. As meontrs, we work with a professor, who teaches the main session of a class, and meontrs mentor/teach the Mentor Sessions (where that same class, after the main session is over, is divided into smaller groups to make learning easier for students).


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