SMP-Present and Future
The Student Mentorship Programme, an initiative by Monday Morning backed and provided impetus by Prof B. Majhi, came into existence at the onset of this academic year, with an aim to improve interaction between the freshmen and their senior counterparts and also to provide guidance to the relative newbies to the campus by the veterans who have seen it all. The mentorship was not just for academics but for all the nuances of college life especially pertaining to the daily life of a freshman in NITR.
Although the initiative began with an initial surge, the rising curve of SMP hasn’t been as steep as one expected it to be. There are several reasons associated with the mellowing down of the programme. Thus, Monday Morning looked into the various aspects of the programme from the perspective of the two key stakeholders the freshmen and the final year students. The following paragraphs analyse the issues at hand and attempts at suggesting feasible improvements for the SMP to flourish in the future.
The Novice Perspective
Monday Morning conducted a survey based on the various facets pertaining to the Student Mentorship Programme and the results provide a decent insight into the way forward as far as the programme is concerned.
Are you a part of SMP or not?
A healthy percentage of the students are enrolled in the programme thus serving the basic purpose of any new initiative, building awareness in the campus. Through sessions held in BBA, regular information through webmail and other modes of publicity; the programme has successfully reached a fair share of the first year populace.
However a significant portion of the freshmen population answered in negative thus asserting a lack of awareness amongst them with regard to the Mentorship Programme. Thus, in the near future, one of the fundamental aspects that the programme has to work on is to ensure its existence and effect reaches every single freshman on the campus.
What is the biggest hindrance in the interaction between the final year students and the freshers?
An overwhelming portion of the freshmen felt that the primary reason for the lack of effective interaction among the freshmen and the final year students was not the dreaded ragging or the supposed communication gap but the lack of initiative from either parties. While the programme does ensure that the mentors and the mentees participate in active conversations through phones, social media and formal meetings; the mentors have to take the onus upon themselves to ensure that the freshmen come out of their shells and communicate their dilemmas without any inhibitions. With the almost negligible ragging on campus, the freshmen are also free to take the first step and be at home with their final year counterparts. As a system, the SMP has to moderate these interactions especially in the initial phases to ensure fruitful discussions among the two parties.
What are the areas in which the freshmen require guidance the most?
- Extra-Curricular Activities
- Future Prospects
- Other aspects of College Life
From the above illustration it is fairly obvious that the majority of the first year populace feels the need for guidance with regard to academics and future options. The results are not conclusive but indicative to the mentors to analyse the academic scenario in the campus, not just from their own experience but from the perspective of the various courses, their relevance and their application in the future. Thus, the expectations of the freshmen forces the SMP and the mentors to build as much credibility as possible in giving academic or career advices to their juniors, rather than the usual “gyan” of the seniors. However, owing to the mixed percentages one still feels that the needs of every freshman must be dealt with individually and the guidance should serve to both ease his daily life and provide him clarity for the future.
Are you a part of a club or not?
The data indicates that almost half of the population is a part of the various clubs on the campus while the other half is not.
For the latter half, SMP becomes extremely relevant as these students do not have the privilege of interacting with seniors in the club. The mentors, associated with them form the primary source of guidance and hence their advices have a direct correlation on the activities of such students.
For the former half, who have the guidance of both the mentors and their club seniors, the mentors have to ensure that the freshman doesn’t get perplexed and inundated with numerous advices from various sources. With meticulous planning and taking the clubs into account, the SMP can serve as a complementary source of guidance in addition to the existing clubs.
On a final note, when the freshmen were asked regarding their suggestions for the development of the SMP, most of them said their lack of experience with such a system didn’t give them enough experience to comment on the same. Thus, Monday Morning hopes that the aforementioned points are taken into account during the implementation of SMP to cater to the needs of the freshmen as far as possible, which is the underlying objective of the programme.
The Veteran Perspective
An important perspective to view this programme is that of the mentors’. They believe a freshman has many challenges, from being responsible and rational instead of going awry and setting foot in a wrong direction and this is precisely why they act as guides to help them in their journey.
Communication has been a problem, though, as has been the amount of interest shown. The contact numbers of several mentees have not reached the mentors yet. Effective communication of either parties is of paramount importance for SMP to flourish in the future.
Regarding the hectic schedule of the final year students which involves academia, clubs, placements and so on, the SMP has to ensure that the whole “settling in” and “settling out” of the freshmen is smoothened so that the time spent in the interactions are as productive as possible.
Regarding the “fear factor” and curtailing any possibility of ragging; a “hotline” for first years must be installed especially since the interactions cannot be supervised. However, since the mentors have been amiable, the “fear factor”, they believe hasn’t posed a hindrance.
The interaction could be better if the mentors and the mentees belong to the same hostel, which may be a long term goal to fulfil.
On being asked about involvement of PhD and Mtech students as mentors, most of them felt that it wouldn’t serve the purpose as they are not as assimilated to the NITR culture as their BTech counterparts and as their rules vary significantly, and thus even though they have a more varied experience, it is not feasible for them to become mentors.
On a final note, some mentors felt that SMP should be made optional for the first years as not all of them are interested in such an initiative which may not be favourable for the mentors. Further, the ratio of the mentees to mentors should be reduced from 10:1 to 5:1 for improving the efficiency of the SMP.
The Way Forward
Monday Morning hopes that the various aspects that have been discussed in the preceding sections will be considered as the SMP turns into a legitimate body and starts functioning throughout the campus with every freshmen wrapped in its envelope. With an initiative as progressive as this, one can expect the future batches to reap the benefits of effective interactions and guidance from the seniors thus making their stay in the campus an enjoyable journey instead of a painful ordeal.