The Liberal Arts Core (LAC) Peer Mentor program places current successful UNC Asheville students in LA 178 course. Peer Mentors show new students what it takes to succeed at UNC Asheville and present positive examples of academic integrity, academic success skills (time management, study skills, etc), responsible student decision-making, and balanced extra-curricular involvement.
Becoming a LAC Mentor
How do students get to be mentors?
Students can apply to be mentors in 1 of 3 ways:
- An LAC instructor identifies a student as a good match for them and their LA 178 course and encourages the student to apply.
- A student identifies a particular LA 178 course or instructor and approaches them to see if the instructor would like them to serve as their Peer Mentor.
- A student expresses interest in the Peer Mentor program to the Program Coordinator, who contacts the LA 178 faculty that don't already have a Peer Mentor and asks them to consider working with the interested student.
Can students mentor in a different LA 178 than the one they took as a new student?
Students are welcome to Peer Mentor in classes they have not taken themselves. It will be up to you and your Peer Mentor to decide how in-depth their understanding of your LA 178 topic should be.
Do Peer Mentors register for the LA 178 course they're working in?
No. Peer Mentors have already taken their LA 178 (or LSIC 179) course, and students cannot get credit for more than 1 LA 178 course. In addition, Peer Mentors would have to confront some difficult ethical questions if they were receiving academic credit for a course in which were also helping other students edit papers, study for exams, and design projects.
Do Peer Mentors get training?
Yes. Mentors will meet with the Program Coordinator at the beginning of the semester to review fundamentals of peer leadership, important information about campus resources, academic policies, academic success skills, and scholarly information about the college student experience. Mentors will also participate in exercises to improve their skills in peer mentoring and leadership and developing strong relationships with faculty and students.
How many hours a week do Peer Mentors work?
Peer Mentors should be able to devote about 5-7 hours/week to the experience. While the exact amount of time needed will depend on your agreement with your Peer Mentor, they should plan to spend (on average):
- 3 hrs/week in the LA 178 course
- 1-2 hrs/week staying on top of the academic work in the LA 178 course
- 1-2 hrs/week talking with students outside of class/planning extra-curricular activities/meeting with you, etc.
- Peer Mentors will also meet periodically throughout the semester with the Program Coordinator.
Some Peer Mentors spend much more time than this, but 5-7 hours/weeks is a good starting point.
What do Peer Mentors receive for compensation?
Peer Mentors receive a $350 stipend at the end of their experience, provided that they satisfactorily meet your expectations. Instructors should provide Peer Mentor with a textbook that the Peer Mentor will return at the end of the semester.
Can students serve as Peer Mentors more than once?
Yes! A mentor's second experience can be with the same instructor as their first, or they can work with a different instructor.
What do LAC Peer Mentors do?
- Work both in and out of the classroom to guide students through issues such as academic decision-making, time management, study skills, major exploration, campus issues, and adjustment difficulties
- Assist LA 178 instructor in designing class activities and assignments
- Help facilitate in-class discussions
- Work with students experiencing difficulty in the LA 178 course
- Organize extra-curricular social and academic activities
- Serve as an additional point of contact for students outside of class
- Set up peer editing or study sessions
- Refer students to appropriate university resources
Information for LAC Peer Mentors
Being asked to serve as a Peer Mentor is a great honor that requires a great deal of responsibility. As a Peer Mentor, you'll be asked to assist your students with their transition to UNC Asheville, work with your LAC instructor to make your LAC as rewarding as possible, and even help other Peer Mentors make the most of their experience.
To make this a rewarding experience for all, it's important that you learn as much as you can about how to be a good mentor. The information below will help you, along with the material discussed in your mentoring meetings with the Program Coordinator.
I chose to be a peer mentor because my peer mentor for my class was really open and welcoming. It was reassuring to know that my peer mentor was there for me, and I had heard from other different experiences. Basically, I wanted to share with incoming freshmen a sense of involvement and reassurance that their presence is valued. - A 2008 Peer Mentor
What advice do former Peer Mentors have for me as I work with my LAC students?
Quotes from the Fall 2008 Peer Mentors
- Get to know a little about each of them in the beginning, but also give those who seem uninterested time to come around.
- Be as close to them as possible and very approachable. Tell them what your job is and remind them you’re there just for them at least once a week. Have fun with them.
- They’re really the same age! Don’t treat them like kids, treat them like new friends. It’s important to reach out and be willing to be an ear.
- Let them know that their college career will not be perfect (no matter where they attend), but that they must learn from both their successes and their mistakes. Share with them the good and bad experiences you’ve had as an undergrad at UNC Asheville. They need to know you’re still a student; you’re still learning too.
- They are students just like you; don’t feel intimidated, even if they are older than you.
- Stress to them that you are there for them and that you were just like them not too long ago. Also, to be very clear about your availability and how you can help them throughout the semester.
- Always stay positive - be there to help, but also make sure you keep managing your own time as well and continue following the techniques you are teaching them! Set the example!
- The best you can do is be there for your students. They may never need you but knowing you’re there can be a big help.
What advice do former Peer Mentors have for me as I work with my LAC instructor?
Quotes from past Peer Mentors
- Be open and ask lots of questions
- Ask for a few moments at the end of a class to talk to the students or ask the instructor for some involvement in the lectures so that the students know that you know this material too!
- Don’t be intimidated by your instructor and try to find out their personalities.
- Be open from the beginning about your expectations of one another.
- Communicate. Don’t be afraid to make suggestions about the class/students.
- Don’t be afraid to disagree, as long as you keep it constructive!
- Be honest and take the initiative to mold your own experience if you have any ideas to share with them!
- Be comfortable with them and don’t be shy or feel like you’re overstepping your bounds by suggesting some changes or new things.
- Communication is key! Make sure you know your syllabus so that you are all on the same page.
- Instructors cannot read your mind. If you want or need something, it’s your responsibility to tell them. Ask them to help you meet your goals as a mentor.
What Faculty want LAC Peer Mentors to do and know:
- Recognize issues in students before they become serious.
- Discuss social & campus issues with students.
- Give students “inside information” about classes and campus life.
- Be familiar with campus resources.
- Be willing to take charge of planning extra-curricular events.
- Talk with students on a personal level about issues dealing with alcohol, relationships, etc (things that they won’t want to listen to faculty talk about).
- Be willing to really get to know students.
- Give students strategies on stress management, time management, healthy living, dealing with roommates.
- Help with advising students.
- Help facilitate in-class discussions on both the academic topic of the course and “transition” issues.
Information for LAC Faculty
We're glad you're considering including a Peer Mentor in your LAC 178 course design! Research reveals that students in first year colloquium courses with Peer Mentors display higher levels of academic achievement. Though the connection between peer support and academic success has long been supported by research, we believe that using a Peer Mentor in your class also demonstrates to your LAC students how dedicated you are to student support and how much attention you pay to each student.
How do I choose a Peer Mentor?
In selecting a Peer Mentor, carefully consider the following:
- Do I want an outgoing student who can actively help lead class discussions?
- Do I want a student who is active in campus activities and organizations?
- Do I want a student I have taught in class or someone I know through departmental activities?
- Do I want a Peer Mentor who knows something about the subject of the LAC 178 or someone who can learn alongside the students?
It is very important for you to consider the way a prospective Peer Mentor will interact with you and your incoming LAC 178 students.
What do other faculty say about having Peer Mentors?
Faculty report that Peer Mentors are helpful in many ways, including:
- Mentors can be helpful in developing new and creative teaching activities and assignments that appeal to students and get them excited about learning.
- Mentors lend a second level of contact and support for students. They can talk with students to help them sort out issues before the students go to the faculty member, and they are often available for students when faculty are not (night, weekends, etc).
- Peer Mentors can help lend a sense of continuity to the class by leading classes when faculty members have to miss classes for conferences, illness, etc.
- Mentors help instructors remember their experiences as students, which in turn helps us be better teachers.
What advice do former Peer Mentors have for me as I work with my Peer Mentor?
Quotes from the Fall 2008 Peer Mentors
- Know what kinds of things that we go over in class so you can utilize all the knowledge they are receiving.
- Remember that they have full semesters and are doing this because they want to.
- Be clear about your intentions for them and be open to their ideas about what can help the students.
- Communicate and be open to mentor’s ideas and goals.
- Use them whenever you can because we signed up to help in any way possible.
- Work with them as much as they want to or can - they are going in each week without a copy of your lesson plan & that can be scary.
- Try to set up regular, maybe weekly meetings to make sure you’re both on the same page. Get to know them before class so you know what to expect from them during the semester.
- Allow them to not only compliment your curriculum but be a part of it. Show them that they will be needed by you and the students.
- Let them know you appreciate them & do your best to keep an open door in communication!
- Meet with them before the class starts to discuss your mutual expectations about the mentor’s role and about your relationship in the classroom.