Bridging the Distance: Student Mentorship Program

Bridging the Distance: Student Mentorship Program

At the outset of yet another academic year, NIT-R has welcomed a new batch of freshmen. These enthusiastic youngsters, step inside this campus with their heads held high, and their minds clouded by dreams and aspirations. After living in a sanctuary provided for them by their parents, for the last eighteen years, they work hard to crack some of the toughest entrance examinations in order to assure themselves a seat in this reputed institution. It is therefore natural for them to feel out of place, to feel the need for guidance and often be lead astray because of their newly found freedom. With no words of wisdom, their inexperience often causes them to forget their primary purpose of becoming an engineer and they get caught in various dubious activities.

In our fight against ragging, we have unfortunately also curbed a very vital aspect of the life of freshers – interaction with seniors. With nobody to reach out to and nobody to turn to for advice, they struggle to cope with this alien environment and end up surviving these four years, tackling several unforeseen difficulties.

The Student Mentorship Program (SMP), is an initiative being lead by Monday Morning, with strong support from Prof. B. Majhi, Dean (Academics) with the objective of bridging this gap and providing a healthy platform for freshmen to interact with their seniors and forge relationships that will not only help them settle into their lives here, but also keep them from being lead astray.

Aim:

The primary target of this program is to provide a support system for the freshmen. The student mentors will act as guides and help them overcome various difficulties which they face during their stay at NITR. The mentor and mentee relationship is meant to be an informal and candid interaction, where the mentor’s role entails but is not limited to acting as a friendly senior, who is caring to listen to the predicaments of clueless freshmen and observant enough to spot possible signs of derailment and distress.

Be it academically weak students trying overcome issues related to their course work, or a student dealing with peer pressure or extra-academic problems, this program aims at assigning mentors who can relate to the issues of their respective mentees and help them cope with the stress. At the same time, since mentors are also students with only limited means of helping their mentee they are encouraged to seek and approach other people for help, whenever they deem necessary.

This program will be closely associated with the institute student counselor, Dr. Kalyani Mishra whom anybody can reach out to for his/her personal issues or otherwise. This program aspires to create an environment that is conducive for learning and safe for the sensitive, impressionable minds of the freshmen.

Recently to this effect, a mail was sent by the Dean (Academic) inviting applications for the role of mentors where a CGPA cutoff of 8.5 was mentioned. However students, who need the role of a mentor the most are often those who struggle with their academics and a student with a fairly high CGPA is unlikely to be able to relate them and vice versa. Therefore, a more suitable alternative would be a student who has been on the edge in terms of his CGPA, and has managed to make up for it by turning his life around.

When Team MM questioned the legitimacy of this criterion, Prof. B. Majhi said,

The general assumption is that a person with a high CGPA is good at academics and can help people struggling with their studies. So we had initially decided upon a CGPA cutoff. However, since we need the mentees to relate to their mentors in order for this program to be successful, the CGPA condition can be waived. In fact, I would be glad if a student who has been in a similar situation can lead by example and inspire a struggling freshman to be more responsible.

The institute student counselor who has tried to mentor students for the last two years also agrees that there is a generation gap between the freshmen and the authorities which prevents transparency. However, having final year students as mentors will considerably diminish this difference, and be useful to those who wish to share their problems but cannot find people to confide in. Having received positive responses from several ends, Team MM decided to draw up a framework to ensure that the entire process was efficient and contributed to the welfare of both parties. Some of the highlights of this program are as follows:

 

  • All the final and super final year students shall be eligible to avail this opportunity to play the role of a mentor

  • The applicants would be screened by a panel of faculties including the institute student counselor and finally, 40-70 mentors will be chosen as per their discretion

  • There would be several parameters while judging an applicant including his/her academic excellence, co-curricular activities, leadership qualities, motivational abilities, etc.

  • Besides that, the chosen mentors would appear for a psychometric test, which would determine their personality traits so that efficient mentorship could be achieved

  • Each mentor would be allotted with 10-20 UG freshmen

  • Team MM would organize an initial orientation to enlighten the mentors and mentees of the need and benefit of such a program

  • Subsequently, mentors are supposed to arrange for one-to-one meetings or group sessions with their mentees

  • Occasionally, team MM would also organize group SMP meetings to collect feedback from mentors and mentees to ensure that the problems are addressed and the process is improved with the passage of time

Mentor’s Gain:

While the institute might try to incentivize students with certificates and other validations of their contribution, one must not miss out on the bigger picture here.

By signing up for this voluntary service, final years will be establishing themselves as responsible individuals capable of inspiring and working with a group, improving their own communication skills and honing their ability to socialize as well as build relationships.

This opportunity is not just one that is meant to affect their lives on campus, but one that will allow them to develop themselves, while they help shape someone else’s future.

Team MM sincerely hopes that this Program will receive a large number of applicants and just like several other institutes that have benefited from this over time, NITR will also be able to capitalize on this opportunity. The SMP requires time to reflect benefits, and we hope both parties – freshmen as well as final years, will patiently bear with the process. Please register on the provided link and feel free to contact us with any queries. Stay tuned for further updates.

Mentor Registration Form for Student Mentorship Program 2016:

https://goo.gl/3GyEVZ

 

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