A new campus group aims to make the transition to college life easier for incoming students, matching mentors with new students, and hopefully sponsoring activities each quarter for students to meet in the program.
The group, U of C Student Mentors, is being organized by second-year in the College Danny Wasserman, who said it would help students have a more positive outlook on student life at the University. "They'll have an opportunity to meet even more of their peers, and they'll be able to see the U of C through the eyes of an older student," Wasserman said, adding that, aside from helping first-years adjust to college life, older students could introduce them to new activities.
Unlike other mentoring groups on campus, this one does not focus on specific groups, like minority students, international students, or LGBTQ students. "This group is open to all entering students," Wasserman said.
He noted that another student tried to start a similar program last autumn, which ended up never getting off the ground. "I can still very clearly remember my experience as a first yearespecially before move-in day," Wasserman recalled. "I don't think I had ever been so upset, nervous, scared, worried, etc., but then when I moved in, the first friends I made were some upperclassmen in my house who just really made me feel comfortable in a new place. They were always there to talk, hang out, and offer advice, and I thought it would be great if every new student could have someone to help them in their transition to college life."
Assistant Director of the College Programming Office Carrie Goldin serves as an adviser to the group, providing guidance for its realization. She said that it is always important to provide support for new students. "The more mechanisms we have in place to make them feel well adjusted and acclimated, the better," she said.
"Once O-Week ends and classes begin, students will seek guidance from individuals across campus," Goldin noted, adding that relationships formed between first-years, returning students, resident heads, advisers, and faculty are instrumental in connecting students to the University community. "Having a mentor through this RSO will be one more potential connection for a first-year student," she said.
According to another organizer, second-year in the College Mallika Kaur Sarkaria, personal letters go out from Orientation leaders to incoming students every summer. "That is an awesome personal touch," she said. "But then once you get here, you don't get to meet a particular O-Aide who you are sure will be around after O-Week too. Wouldn't it be great to actually get to meet a real person who will be around for the rest of the year and can help you and hang out with you too?"
Wasserman, currently completing the application for the group to gain RSO status, does not know how large the program will grow to be, though he says he has begun to receive responses from interested students.
"I think the majority of interested students have been first and second-year students, but there are also a significant number of third-year students," Wasserman said. "As far as male-female goes, we've got a large number of both so far."
Wasserman said that his organization remains in the early stages, and that he is unsure how certain details will be worked out.