The College of Arts, Sciences & Education has launched a new program designed to increase retention and student sense of belonging.
Through a partnership with Mentor Collective, students in the college will now have the opportunity to be paired with an upper-division peer mentor, trained to offer guidance and advice. Students can use the platform’s discussion guides and goal-setting activities to help foster meaningful conversations with their mentor throughout the year.
“Retention of incoming, first-time-in-college students is a priority, especially as we kick off a new year during the pandemic, said Mike Heithaus, dean of FIU’s College of Arts, Sciences & Education. “We want to help our students build meaningful connections with their peers, their professors and the college. With the support of the Mentor Collective, we’re creating another opportunity for students to be engaged, find support, and have an impactful experience during their academic journey.”
The launch of FIU’s Mentor Collective program comes at a time when two recent surveys suggest what is driving student worry and uncertainty for Fall 2020: the loss of personal connections that are a hallmark of the college experience. Above all, the Mentor Collective program empowers student voices by recognizing the importance of relationships in a student’s academic journey.
Maricel Cigales, associate dean of Undergraduate Studies in the College of Arts, Sciences & Education, points out that the college already provides numerous resources that support student life and increase sense of belonging, including events, clubs, student organizations.
“Unfortunately not all of our students can take advantage of those on-campus opportunities because so many of our students work. They come to campus for their classes and they don't have a lot of time to hang around,” she said. “Under the current situation of COVID-19, we also do not expect to have the same number of students on campus in the fall. That is what’s really appealing about the Mentor Collective program — it's an online platform. Mentees and mentors can connect using their smart devices. It’s very natural for them.”
For Cigales, her desire to expand mentorship experiences for students come from her own personal experiences.
“Mentorship has impacted my life tremendously,” she said. “I see peer mentorship as more than an exchange of information — it’s knowing there is someone there you can talk to if you have a question or an uncomfortable situation. Getting that other perspective and a broader view on life can be so helpful and beneficial.”
FIU’s Mentor Collective program is actively enrolling mentees and mentors for the 2020-2021 school year. More information about the program is available on the College of Arts, Sciences & Education Advising webpage.