The University Studies Peer Mentor Program at Portland State University plays an integral role in the Freshman Inquiry (FRINQ) and Sophomore Inquiry (SINQ) courses by recruiting highly-skilled undergraduate and graduate students to mentor first and second-year students.
The Peer Mentor Program was developed under the same award-winning, interdisciplinary general education guidelines as PSU's University Studies Program.
Over 100 undergraduate and graduate Peer Mentors work directly with the FRINQ and SINQ faculty to support students by role-modeling and developing the skills needed to succeed at the university. Given the nature of their work and their frequent professional development trainings, Peer Mentors also benefit by developing strong leadership, listening, and communication skills, making them highly sought after candidates in the workplace and in graduate programs.
About the UNST Mentor Program
University Studies employs a unique strategy for addressing student success at Portland State University. During the year-long freshman-level course (Freshman Inquiry) and term-long sophomore-level courses (Sophomore Inquiry), upper-division undergraduate and graduate peer mentors are partnered with faculty to deliver these courses. The mentor program is a community of exceptional students trained to provide leadership and academic support to their peers in mentor sessions. Mentor Sessions are designed to help mentees gain experience doing high-quality academic work in small groups.
What is a mentor?
Mentors are capable, creative, high-achieving, and experienced students who help other students make the most out of their academic careers. Undergraduate Peer Mentors are juniors or seniors who work with first-year mentees in year-long Freshman Inquiry courses. Graduate Peer Mentors come from all academic disciplines and work with Sophomore Inquiry courses.
What Does a Mentor Do?
Mentors plan and facilitate 50-minute mentor sessions for Freshman Inquiry and Sophomore Inquiry courses. Successful mentors are flexible, perform multiple roles, and approach topics through a variety of lenses. Mentors serve as allies and tutors, helping mentees to understand the academic culture. They bridge faculty and students and help build positive learning communities. They partner closely with their faculty counterparts in creatively implementing course objectives. Mentors work at least 10-20 hours per week and are encouraged to continue professional development throughout each term. Because some PSU administrators have said that Peer Mentors are often "the best students on campus," we recruit undergraduate and graduate Peer Mentors by offering them competitive compensation.
What else is expected from mentors?
Be well trained. New Undergraduate mentor finalists take a class called Mentoring in Higher Education during the spring before they begin mentoring for the next academic year. In addition, all mentors, new and returning, are required to participate in a week-long fall training prior to the start of the academic year. In addition, there is a three-hour retreat each term that every mentor is expected to attend.
Actively participate in a learning community. Additional training opportunities vary term-by-term. Mentors are encouraged to independently seek out a variety of professional development activities while mentoring, including working with others in the mentor community to develop and present workshops for their mentoring peers. One such collaboration led to the creation of Mentor Dialogues, an ongoing series of workshop development sessions led by seasoned mentors. Mentors are encouraged to create resources to share with other mentors.
Be minimally competent in the use of technology. All new mentors will be expected to have knowledge of basic academic technology programs. The University Studies program provides resources, support, and consultation opportunities for peer mentors to learn about using these technologies in the classroom with their students.
Be a full-time student. All mentors must be full-time PSU students. Undergraduate Peer Mentors must take, and pass, a minimum of 12 credit hours per term. Graduate Peer Mentors must take 9 credit hours per term.
*For information about applying to become a Peer Mentor, click here.*