New University wide mentoring program

In 2012 La Trobe University will provide all new students with a Connect Mentor.

studentsThe program will support all new undergraduate students with their social transition to University.

The Student Enrichment team are developing the Connect Mentor program in collaboration with faculties, key departments and student organisations across all five campuses at La Trobe University.

Up to 500 students will be recruited to be Connect Mentors so that all first year undergraduate students will be allocated to a mentor during Orientation Week in both the first and second semesters.

Ngaere Blair, Director of Student Enrichment says ‘student retention and engagement is a major issue for all universities, and the evidence is clear that unrealistic expectations of what university is all about is one of the main reasons for students to leave early.’

‘We also know that making friends with other students quickly has a significant impact on students feeling a sense of belonging, and being prepared to stick it out.’

‘La Trobe students have a great tradition of using their leadership to support each other, so we hope the Connect Mentor program will build on that and make a real difference to the new students we’ll welcome next year.’ Ms Blair says.

Connect Mentors will be trained and supported to undertake a range of activities, starting with meeting their groups for activities and campus tours on the first day of Orientation. Mentors will tailor individual support to the needs of their group members, maintaining contact either via email, phone or in person.

The program has been funded for its first two years through a Federal Government Higher Education Participation Partnerships Program (HEPPP) grant and will commence in Orientation Week in February 2012.

La Trobe University is also trialling a program that aims to prevent student dropout soon after enrolment in 2012 in the Humanities and Social Sciences Faculty.

The Academic Advisor Scheme will provide all first year students with a member of academic staff as mentor and advisor from O Week. These two programs are intended to align in late 2012.

Associate Professor Kay Souter, Associate Dean (Education), said the program sees a return to what used to happen when La Trobe University first opened.

‘Then we provided students, often the first in their family to go on to higher education, with a point of contact in a bewildering environment,’ she says.

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