How Mentors Are Re-Shaping Students' First Year Experience at LaGuardia

How Mentors Are Re-Shaping Students’ First Year Experience at LaGuardia

New students at LaGuardia need a lot of support to make it through the first semester. Services available across the campus are not enough thus making the human connection with faculty and fellow students even more meaningful. In re-designing the First Year Seminar course, the Center for Teaching and Learning launched the Student Success Mentor program in the summer of 2014. The program is comprised of current LaGuardia students and alumni who have some previous experience in peer mentoring. Student Success Mentors (SSMs) are trained to work with first-year students in helping them become successful college students, navigate the college and the resources available to them, and understand the advisement process within their first semester at the college. Their training also includes lesson planning, classroom management, and leadership skills development.

SSMs facilitate the Studio Hour that’s affiliated with the faculty’s First Year Seminar course and they meet with students one hour per week. Every SSM wants students to “make it” through the first semester and beyond. Doing so, however, requires a lot. Students need to be persistent, embrace challenges, become problem solvers; and these qualities don’t come naturally. SSMs are committed to helping students develop these qualities and the habits of mind that can move them forward. But once the student develops these qualities, having them is not enough. Navigating the college campus, knowing the offices and services, and learning about the college policies can ease up the process. Because SSMs have successfully gone through the LaGuardia experience, with most already enrolled in senior CUNY colleges, they’re able to convey the strategies needed to navigate the college campus; they are the students’ GPS to success. Finally, SSMs facilitate activities that contribute to students’ understanding of the advisement process. In the Studio Hour, SSMs introduce technology tools such as Degree Audit and guide students through the mechanics of understanding their pre and co-requisites. Outside of the Studio Hour class, SSMs attend professional development where they get to work with faculty teaching the First Year Seminar course. They collaborate and design activities that help students build their graduation plan in their ePortfolios.

During the Fall of 2015, the program has 38 SSMs facilitating a total of 148 FYS sessions for the following disciplines: Business, Criminal Justice, Engineering and Computer Science, Health Sciences, Liberal Arts Social Science and Humanities, Liberal Arts Math and Science, Natural Sciences, and Psychology. Overall, SSMs provide a wealth of resources for students to utilize and they’re helping strengthen students’ first year experience at LaGuardia. In addition to working with students in the Studio Hour, SSMs also provide help in the First Year Seminar ePortfolio lab located in C-447. This is a college resource where FYS students can get the support they need with the work they do in class. Added to the work faculty do within the discipline, SSMs are able to convey the habits of mind needed to “make it” through college successfully. If you have questions about the program, contact the program coordinators Ellen Quish and Pablo Avila via our contact form, or you can visit the program’s website at