New peer mentoring program aims to help students through their first year

CMU Mentor Collective builds meaningful student connections

| Author: Logan Pellegrom

​Starting life at a new university can come with many unknowns, new challenges, and questions that can take time for a student to navigate. With that in mind, Central Michigan University has introduced the CMU Mentor Collective Program, a peer mentoring program that pairs incoming students with experienced CMU students to help soften this learning curve.

The program matches incoming first-year and transfer students with more senior students based on common interests, background, academics and professional aspirations. This peer-to-peer style of mentoring allows mentees to gain more firsthand knowledge, such as what to expect in their first year in school and how to approach challenges, and receive tailored advice.

"Students want a level of comfort when they arrive on campus, or even before, to help feel acclimated in their new environment," says Jewel Cotton, assistant director of mentoring initiatives for Multicultural Academic Student Services at CMU.

MASS, in partnership with several other departments and President Bob Davies, introduced the program to students in May of this year, and by Sept. 21, more than 1,900 students had applied to participate. The 1,940 students — 1,312 mentees and 628 mentors — far exceeded the original goal of 800 mentees in the inaugural year.

Cotton says the initial surge of applicants confirmed the purpose of launching this program.

"The initial rush of interest and early success shows the appetite that students and parents have had for this type of program," said Cotton. "To have somebody just a text, call or visit away, someone who has been in your shoes is an amazing resource"

Mentor Collective is a third-party mentoring service that has partnered with more than 100 higher education institutions across the country.

As part of the program, CMU Mentor Collective is working closely with CMU Cares. The Care Team provides help and resources to students in areas including academic, financial, food and housing concerns, and health and well-being. Mentors are trained to report concerns they may encounter related to these areas while communicating with mentees.

While the CMU Mentor Collective is focused on the support of mentees, it is a great opportunity for mentors as well, says James Span, Jr., executive director of Student Inclusion and Diversity for MASS.

 "Mentors have the opportunity to build their networks and grow as leaders while giving back to their peers," Span said. "Our mentors are some of our best leaders on campus and will be the first to show our newest students the power of our community."

Students wishing to take part in the program can sign up to be a mentor or mentee on the CMU Mentor Collective webpage.

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