As the class of 2020 begins to settle in on campus, the Center for Teaching and Learning is introducing a new peer-to-peer mentorship initiative called the “Academic Strategies Program” to further ease students’ transition into college life.
The program, which was developed over the summer and features workshops on time management and exam study strategies, hosted its first event in La Casa Cultural Wednesday evening. The program has hired nine upperclassmen and two graduate students to lead such workshops throughout the term and offer one-on-one mentorship sessions with interested students. The program is open to all undergraduates, but is targeted toward freshmen, sophomores and first-generation students.
“I think the student movement last year highlighted the resources that students needed to succeed at Yale and was an important catalyst for this program,” said Sebastian Perez ’10 GRD ’18, a student mentor for the program. “It’s more about these soft skills that students need to succeed but also maximize their potential and happiness at Yale.”
During the Wednesday night workshop, Perez and Eva Albalghiti ’17, another Academics Strategies mentor, offered time management tips and strategies to a room of around 20 attendees. The two advised students to sleep at least seven hours a night, and to learn to say no to commitments that are not important to their long-term goals and values.
English lecturer Karin Gosselink, who directs the program, said the workshops and mentorship sessions will focus on skills that students may not learn from the classroom. She added that the peer-to-peer mentorship will aim to foster long-lasting, genuine relationships.
“The protests set the stage for this program in a way,” Gosselink said. “There were many students who were saying, ‘We don’t have the full mechanism to feel that we are truly part of this community.’”
The CTL already offers various academic-focused mentorship resources for undergraduates, including the Writing Center and Quantitative Reasoning and Science tutoring. But the new program will address more general learning needs and skills-building for students as they transition to college.
Gosselink said the program chose to adopt the peer-to-peer mentorship approach because upperclassmen often have more “credibility” than professors about daily life as a Yale undergraduate.
Cynthia Yue ’20 said she attended the program’s first workshop on time management because she is still adjusting to the pace of life at Yale and liked the idea of being with a group of people who shared similar concerns. She added that she is interested in attending future workshops that the program offers.
Omid Rooholfada ’20 said he took part in the workshop because college has been a “huge shift” from high school, and he wants to learn how to manage heavy readings for a seminar he is taking this semester.
“Another important reason to have this kind of program is to democratize access to college cultural norms,” CTL Director Jennifer Frederick said. “Students who don’t immediately feel that they belong or who take a while to find a group of friends can have a more difficult time adjusting to the rigors of college.”
The Academic Strategies mentors are based in the Writing Center, though the CTL is scheduled to move into a new location in Sterling Memorial Library in December.