Student mentors are an integral part of Portland State’s award-winning University Studies (UNST) general education program. In Freshman Inquiry (FRINQ) mentor sessions, peer mentors help students develop skills in research, writing, communication, and computer technologies. Students continue to build on these skills in small Sophomore Inquiry (SINQ) classes, which are supported by weekly mentored inquiry sessions led by a graduate peer mentor.
PSU's mentors are capable, creative, high-achieving, and highly-skilled students, and they are often seen as “the best students on campus.” Mentors demonstrate exceptional abilities in communication skills, a capacity to pursue research questions, and the ability to work with people from a variety of backgrounds and contexts. After mentors are nominated and selected, they serve as colleagues and teachers, working closely with a faculty partner to help students learn and adjust to PSU’s academic culture.
Tuition Remission and Benefits
One reason why student mentors excel at what they do is because their commitment to the UNST program is awarded with competitive compensation. Undergraduate peer mentors receive a scholarship that pays tuition for up to 12 credits as well as a monthly monetary award. Graduate peer mentors are hired as Graduate Teaching Assistants and receive tuition remission for up to 9 credits in addition to a monthly stipend. All mentors participate in ongoing training and leadership development activities. Each mentor becomes part of a community of mentors. Their experience in the UNST program contributes in significant ways to their own learning.
The compensation and benefits mentors receive allows them to focus on their work at PSU. Jacob Sherman, a graduate peer mentor, realizes these benefits. “I mentor is because mentoring provides me with the financial stability to not have to worry about how I’m going to pay for my tuition next term or whether or not I’m going to take out some more loans,” he says. “And not having to worry about those things allows me to really be a successful student, really excel here at Portland State.”
The benefits of mentoring are also long-term. “I mentor because it connects me to the population of the university. It connects me to the people. That helps me as an architect understand how to design for those people in the future,” says Kai Pannu, a graduate student in architecture.
Sarah Taylor received a bachelor’s degree in applied linguistics and German. After she graduated she travelled to Germany on a Fulbright scholarship, something she says “never would have happened without mentoring.”
For more stories about how tuition remission and other benefits make mentoring programs more successful for both mentors and mentees, watch this video produced by PSU.
I mentor is because mentoring provides me with the financial stability to not have to worry about how I’m going to pay for my tuition next term or whether or not I’m going to take out some more loans. And not having to worry about those things allows me to really be a successful student, really excel here at Portland State.”
- What's the University Studies program? - Prezi presentation
- University Studies hopes to grow there mentoring program through Mentors Advocating & Promoting Success (MAPS). Look over the Prezi presentation to find out more.
- White, Charles R. (1994). A model for comprehensive reform in general education: Portland State University. The Journal of General Education, 43(3), 168-237.