Peer Mentoring Recruitment: Not as Open as it May Seem

Peer mentors are the people who are meant to guide freshman through their first year away from home. They are supposed to help them manage their classes, offer assistance in areas where they are struggling and just be there to make the transition from high school to college as smooth as possible. So, with all of that responsibility, one would think that the school would be actively seeking out students to apply for this position. However, having just gone through the first phase of the recruitment process, I do not believe that they are as eager for mentors as they seem.

Every current student received multiple emails from Rollins’ Explorations team encouraging them to apply to be a peer mentor. I had been eager since the middle of my first semester to apply to be a peer mentor because I loved my Rollins Conference Course (RCC) and secretly hoped that I would be chosen to mentor for it. Of course, I was open to mentoring for any other professor, but it was still one of my top choices. So naturally I filled out an application, sent it in, and waited to hear back from Explorations about what the next step would be.

A few weeks after I submitted my application, I received another email telling me to sign up for the first round of interviews. I was both excited and nervous the day I sat down with a few other people to be interviewed by two of the student coordinators for Explorations. The interview did not go quite as I expected. Because it was a group interview, we did not have much time to really develop our answers and it was difficult to get a word in with other people jumping on the questions right away.

Still, I walked away from that interview feeling pretty confident that I would at least make it to the second round. Explorations, however, did not seem to agree. Over spring break, I received an email telling me they would not be able to offer me the position.

Understandably, I was quite angry after reading the email. That was not the only reason I was upset. While I was waiting to hear back from Explorations on interviews, I decided to ask a few professors if they had any openings for their RCCs. All three of the professors had either chosen their peer mentors for next year or were looking for specific requirements that I did not meet. That was when I began to suspect that this recruitment process was not as open as it seemed.

I was not the only one who had problems with the process. Said Amy Teixeira ’14, “I thought it was a random picking. I thought that we’d just apply and get interviewed and assigned a random professor. If I’d known that [was not the case], I would’ve talked to some professors before.” However, there were other people who had luck with asking professors for an interview. Melanie Leon ’14 spoke with a few who had already picked out their peer mentors, however, one professor later contacted Leon, saying that there was an opening in the RCC for a mentor and asked if she was still interested. So, for some people, opportunities did arise for a second chance at peer mentoring. Associate Professor of History Claire Strom, an RCC professor, agreed that the recruitment process is not perfect. She emphasized that the system was not ideal because professors picked out students individually while Explorations was recruiting more students than necessary. “The system is not functioning correctly… you’re almost working with parallel processes…which means that a whole bunch of students try to get involved, but then they can’t because of the other process.” Still, Strom remains positive about the future of peer mentoring, saying that as long as they try to merge the two processes somehow, everything will be okay.

So, this is what I want to know: Why send out an all campus email requesting people to sign up for the job if half of the professors in mind have already picked their peer mentors? How is that fair to the people applying?

Had I known that the peer mentor recruitment process was so complicated, I would not have wasted the time filling out the application. Why professors and Explorations have not communicated about how to properly recruit peer mentors, I do not know. Next year, when peer mentor applications go out, mine will go straight to the trash folder.

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