GVL / Daniel Pacheco
Many first year college students find themselves struggling with lack of retention strategies. From not being able to recall information taught in lecture to not being able to relate what was taught in lecture to out of class events, freshmen often find themselves in need of some extra help. This is why Grand Valley State University programs such as the new LIB 100 peer mentor program are created.
The LIB 100 peer mentor program was created this year by the College of Interdisciplinary Studies as a way for sophomore, junior, and senior LIB students to help first year students in LIB 100 courses. Graduate Assistant Ashley Eschbach explained that “the idea was created with student retention in mind.”
Director of the Office of Integrative Learning and Advising Jennifer Jameslyn said, “It was started because we were hearing from LIB 100 students and faculty that they wanted more support for students in completing [the] co-curricular requirement.”
Jameslyn said that some students find relating the co-curricular events back to the class challenging, “so the mentors are helping them kind of bridge that gap between the experiences that they are having outside of class and then the content of LIB 100.”
There are currently five student mentors in the program and their job includes, but is not limited to, facilitating a service learning event along with hosting co-curricular events, resource tours and classroom tours. Eschbach explained that “mentors host co-curricular events on campus and engage with students to help them identify some learning objectives and relate what they have learned in the event back to what they are learning in class.”
Not only was the program created to help first year students make connections between out of class events and what they have learned in class, but it was also created to help students make a greater connection to GVSU.
Jameslyn said, “[It was also created] because it was a good opportunity for us to offer a mentorship or a sense of connection to students from across the university because so many students take LIB 100.”
Eschbach said that the purpose of the program was built off of getting students to feel at home at GVSU.
“We noticed that students are happier and more successful when they feel more connected to the campus as a whole,” Eschbach said. “We wanted to do our part in this.”
Peer Mentor Julia Ervin said that she would have wanted the peer mentoring program when she was a freshman and elaborated on the benefits of the program.
“I think this service offers a lot to students in regards to abstract and relational thinking. It assists students in making connections to course content and practicing that skill with other students,” Ervin said. “We all have something to bring to the table and this allows students a constructive way to formulate what they already have within them in order to effectively brainstorm. As for students whom this might be a new concept, it allows them space to learn how to think in new ways.”
Jameslyn also said there are numerous benefits for having the program, such as creating a closer community.
“There’s also a sense of connection that comes from having that opportunity to sit with another student, talk to them about an event you both attended, or do that community service together, you’re really strengthening your connection to the Grand Valley community as a whole,” Jameslyn said. “It’s a chance to get to know other students, to get to know students who might be outside of your classes or your major and make connections that are a little bit broader.”