First-Year Mentoring versus Career Mentoring

Our First-Year Mentoring program in PSUnite is designed to meet President Don Birx’s goal of having one mentor for each of our 1200 entering students.

Why a First-Year Mentor? How is that different from a Career Mentor?
Nationally, a number of students leave college after their first year. For some at PSU, this is for financial reasons but most who leave after their first year cite social reasons: they did not find a connection.

With over 100 clubs, small class sizes, and dozens of activities to participate in weekly, we know PSU has a lot going for despite our rural setting. The fact is, some students slip through the cracks. What’s worse, is they leave, with debt, and the feeling that they aren’t right for college.

The reality is that the first-year is hard for all of us, socially and often academically.

What makes the difference? Many things, as you might guess. Clubs, organizations, athletics, arts, inspiring professors, friendly Residence Halls, faculty and staff members who care. And, mentorship.

First-Year Mentors help by:

  • Reminding students that they got accepted on their merits, and that if they keep working hard they will succeed.
  • Asking questions and listening. Being a friendly, caring, and listening ear.
  • Not always giving advice, but rather, asking questions. For example: “Hmm… that decision doesn’t seem to line up with what you shared as one of your goals. What’s changed?”
  • Supporting the process of change. It’s common for students to change their major at least once. Encourage exploration and the importance of meeting with their First-Year Success Coach.
  • Believing in and promoting a growth mindset. Obviously, growing and learning is part of the college – indeed, life – experience. Encourage students to process setbacks objectively, and to then dust themselves off and move onto the next opportunity.
  • Keeping career in the mind of their student mentee, but not over-emphasizing it. It seems so far off to an 18-year old, and rather than motivate them, it can result in students disengaging from the mentoring relationship.
  • Keeping it fun, and remembering their own excitement of going to college!

Know someone who’d be a great First-Year Mentor for Plymouth State students?
Ask them to text PSUnite to 51555 or direct them to to stay connected about the program.



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