Peer Mentoring Adapts

Apr 03, 2020

Cal U’s Peer Mentoring Program uses virtual resources for fall recruitment.

peer mentoring

Cal U’s Peer Mentoring Program is preparing to recruit next year’s mentors online.

“Normally at this time of the year our current proteges and mentors have developed relationships, become friends, stayed in contact, and our first-year students are on their way toward a successful start,” said program director Dori Eichelberger. 

“Our focus now is recruiting mentors and trying to get them trained for summer and fall.”

Because all Cal U students are now studying online and staff are working remotely, the program plans to implement online mentor training through D2L Brightspace, Cal U’s learning management platform, later this month.

“We are finishing the (training) content and trying to make it as interactive possible,” Eichelberger said. “The new training will cover some of the same topics, such as communication, resources on campus and empathy, but we will instruct with discussion boards, reflection and different online exercises.

“With their busy schedules, students interested in becoming mentors have requested something like this previously, so hopefully it will be well received.”

Typically, peer mentors help to recruit new mentors by reaching out at First Year Seminar classes and through clubs and organizations, for example 

“This will all continue, but now our pitch will rely on email, paper correspondence and getting the word out in the virtual classrooms,” Eichelberger said

It’s worth the effort: At Cal U, first-year students with peer mentors move on to their second year at a 10% to 12% higher rate than those who don’t join the voluntary program. 

This spring, the Peer Mentor Program consists of about 400 protégés and 300 mentors. That total includes 21 peer mentor coordinators, who offer perspectives about the program at First Year Seminar classes and oversee a group of mentors. 

The coordinators must have at least a 3.0 overall grade-point average, while mentors must have at least a 2.3 overall GPA and meet requirements of their academic departments.

Coordinator Kayla Germini, a junior psychology major from Selinsgrove, Pa., became a peer mentor in her second semester after being mentored by Taylor Carroll, a 2019 graduate.

“I came from four hours away, did not know anybody, and had a really good experience with my mentor,” Germini said. “It was nice to have a familiar face to have lunch with and ask questions.”

Last fall Germini oversaw 30 peer mentors. She also has three protégés this spring.

“I keep tabs on them, make sure they are comfortable and adjusting well, and as of now they’re doing great,” she said.

She plans to help with the online mentor training and agrees with Eichelberger that the new format will work well with students’ busy schedules.  

“The Peer Mentoring Program is a great way to help first-year or transfer students get organized into college life,” Germini said.

“It’s something along the lines of a Big Brother, Big Sister program. You get whatever you want it to be, and it’s up to the protégé and mentor as to what kind of relationship they want.”

To contact the Peer Mentoring Office, email