Mentorship programs at GVSU set students up for success

By Lanthorn Editorial Board | 11/6/17 12:43am

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For any college freshman, adjusting to the undergraduate life can be a challenge. In addition to the change of environment, the newfound freedom and the inevitable lifestyle adjustments, there is also the challenging curriculum students have to learn how to tackle, both in the general education program and within specific majors. Learning how to be a productive, successful student is enough to make any new freshman feel stressed and overwhelmed.

That's why at Grand Valley State University there are mentorship programs in place to connect underclassmen with upperclassmen to learn the ropes of how to navigate college-level challenges. For example, in the Frederik Meijer Honors College, incoming freshman students are automatically paired with an already-established honors student the summer before school starts so they can connect and learn more about the program and the university in general prior to moving on campus. 

Having someone present to provide advice and guidance to new students even before they enter the university environment is noteworthy and an important initiative on GVSU's part—especially when that advice and guidance is coming from a peer. Many students enter college unsure of what lies ahead, and despite the numerous staff advisers who reassure them they're going to be okay, hearing those words from someone in a similar position can be much more comforting. Older students also tend to know more about the nitty-gritty ins and outs of life at GVSU from hands-on experience they can share with students.

There are other programs at GVSU that also use mentoring to help their students transition. The Student Nurses' Association (SNA), for example, has been participating in the Transitions Mentorship Program for the past three semesters. Similar to that of the Honors College, this program pairs lower-level nursing students with upper-level students. This allows for incoming student nurses to feel a sense of confidence entering the program, and it also encourages peer-student relationships. 

Another important purpose of this mentorship program and others at GVSU is to make sure students in a particular curriculum or department don't graduate wishing they had known more about their respective majors or life at GVSU. 

Still, this is not a problem exclusive to students in SNA or honors. All students could benefit from having a mentor. Hearing from more experienced individuals, whether in the form of advice or tutoring, is worthwhile. Many students may even find that talking to their mentors, who are dealing with similar circumstances, provides a healthy outlet to commiserate and problem solve. 

In preparation to enter the professional world, GVSU also offers mentorship programs to help students with career preparation. One example of this is the Brooks Mentor Program through GVSU's Brooks College of Interdisciplinary Studies, which pairs interested students in the college with a mentor to help prepare them for life after college. The program is not meant to serve as a direct job connection but rather as an opportunity to provide and receive helpful guidance and improve upon a variety of skills.

Mentors in this program include Brooks alumni as well as community professionals in different career fields, which makes it slightly different than the aforementioned student-to-student mentorships. But the same theory applies: Individuals who are knowledgeable in a certain field pass on their wisdom and know-how to new students to set them up for success. 

In that vein, freshman students should seriously consider taking part in mentorship programs at GVSU if they are not automatically enrolled, and upperclassmen should "pay it forward" and pass on their wisdom to keep the positive cycle going.

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