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Opinion: Are more peer mentors needed?

At the end of this fall term, Rollins’ peer mentors will set their mentees loose into the academic world, trusting that they have established stable friendships and a solid sense of the complicated liberal arts system. Mentees know that their peer mentors are still friends who they can turn to for support, and they understand that they must take responsibility for themselves now. No more coddling. No more supervision.

At least, this is how it used to be.

A new wave of peer mentors is swooping into spring semester’s 100-level neighborhood classes. You may have noticed the posters pinned to campus bulletin boards, calling for applications. Each flyer explains that the new program “helps students connect their general education curriculum to the overall Rollins experience.” With this new plan, current freshmen can now expect new peer mentors to join their general education classes.

While the first semester was a time of acclamation, the second semester should be a time for  freshmen to better themselves in the college environment. They are already acquainted with their advisors, knowledgeable about on-campus resources, and familiar with the layout of the campus. Rollins does a great job of teaching its freshmen how to make it through college life, but it needs to know when to let go.   

I feel as though current freshmen will have had enough experience at college to be able to make comfortable decisions during the spring semester. After coming back from winter break and quality time at home, they will be rejuvenated for spring classes and will no longer need to lean on upperclassmen for guidance.

Providing new peer mentors for the spring semester is not a harmful strategy. I understand its benign purpose: to provide first-years with secure, comfortable relationships. However, it is superfluous, and it unintentionally undermines the fact that freshmen are adults, too.

Peer mentors earn four credits by providing rFLA students with career and life planning advice, emotional support, and academic success strategies. It makes me wonder whether this new program is really a way to help the freshman class or if it is actually designed to offer upperclassmen relatively easy credit opportunities.

Peer mentors are a successful and integral part of the Rollins freshman experience. I do not know what I would do without the support of my peer mentors—their understanding and compassionate natures helped me through tough situations these last few months, and I am very grateful for their role in my first semester at college.

With that being said, I believe that peer mentors should be provided during the fall term and the fall term only. I could be wrong, and the spring semester might be incredibly successful due to the new peer mentors’ contributions. Only time will tell, and I look forward to seeing the results.

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