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Peer mentors help New College freshmen find their feet

students sitting in ballroom

Confetti litters the floor at the New College Welcome Assembly for new students at La Sala Ballroom at ASU West campus on Aug. 18.

August 18, 2015

Editor's note: As ASU gears up for the start of classes this week, our reporters are spotlighting scenes around its campuses. To read more, click here.

Transitioning from high school to college can be tricky. Nobody knows that better than the New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences peer mentors.

At the start of each fall semester, they see to it that incoming New College freshmen know where to go, whom to contact and what to do in the event that they are faced with an unfamiliar situation, which they inevitably will be.

On Tuesday morning, the peer mentors donned their gray and black Henleys and got to work at the New College Welcome Assembly on ASU’s West campus, guiding students in activities like ice-breaker games – sharing what they did over summer vacation, what their favorite TV show is and whether they prefer an iPhone or an Android (iPhone appears to have won by a small margin).

Students also took part in the New College tradition of stamping their handprints on a canvas labeled with their graduating year. The tradition began in 2012, with the class of 2016; the canvases from each year since then hang proudly in the New College offices at West campus.

Though ice-breakers and traditions add a fun element to the assembly, its main purpose is to ensure students are well-prepared to tackle their first year as a Sun Devil. ASU News was on hand to glean some first-year advice from peer mentors, staff and even an assistant dean. See what they had to say below.

Utilize available resources

The main thing Jenna Graham wants New College freshmen to know is this: Make use of the resources at your disposal.

“The Student Success staff and the New College peer mentors are here to help you. Don’t hesitate to contact any one of us when you need to. Life happens and we’re here to help,” says Graham, a transition and retention specialist for Student Success at ASU West.

Have an open mind

Kelly Spencer, lead peer mentor, tells freshmen, “Don’t be afraid to dive into new experiences, even when they’re outside of your comfort zone.”

College is a fresh start

Sometimes students can be bogged down by past academic or personal blunders. But Drew Koch, a first-year experience program coordinator for Student Success, says it’s best to put that all behind them and focus on starting anew.

“You don’t need to be defined by your past,” he says.

Master time management

Peer mentor Wilma Jackson can’t express how important it is to manage your time well, especially as a freshmen. According to her, getting into the habit early is of utmost importance.

Get involved

This bit of advice from Anne Suzuki, assistant dean of enrollment services, is short and sweet but impactful. Being involved in your campus community can go a long way toward enriching your college experience, she says – and even your life beyond that.