The Georgetown University Student Association and its Transfer Council launched a mentorship program for incoming transfer students this semester. In June, 100 transfer students were assigned to 40 peer mentors who helped answer questions and ease each transfer student’s transition into life at Georgetown.
Although all incoming transfer students have an orientation adviser during New Student Orientation, and transfer students in the College, the School of Nursing and Health Studies and the McDonough School of Business have academic peer advisors, GUSA’s peer mentorship program is a unique resource.
GUSA’s Secretary of Transfer Affairs, Sara Margolis (COL ’16) said that she feels that transfer students enter college on a different plane than freshmen, making the transition more difficult in some ways.
“While freshmen don’t really know what the deal is with college, everyone kind of comes in in the same place. They’ve never been to college before and they have kind of leveled expectations,” Margolis said. “When transfers get to campus, they’ve come from different kinds of schools. … Everyone has a different story when they come to Georgetown, but I think that’s especially so with transfers. I felt that there was this void for a resource to introduce transfers to campus and campus life.”
According to GUSA Vice President Omika Jikaria (SFS ’15), the program will help give transfers access to more long-term support.
“We definitely saw in talking to transfers last year that often, transfers are not thought of as a first priority when they come to Georgetown, which can really be detrimental to their experience and their transition,” Jikaria said. “We thought that GUSA was a great place where we could create a transfer council that advocates for transfer specific issues.”
Over 40 students applied to become peer mentors for incoming transfer students. These mentors, all transfer students themselves, contacted their mentees during the summer and answered their questions about Georgetown.
“There are a lot of great services for freshmen that come to Georgetown, but often transfers aren’t thought of in that process. The mentorship program kind of is an offshoot of that. It’s a great way to pair up transfers with transfers that are already at Georgetown,” Jikaria said. “It’s definitely important to have that kind of connection and it’s great to be connected to a transfer at Georgetown because a lot of the transfer orientation advisers aren’t transfers themselves, so we thought this was a great way to create that community.”
Kristen Fedor (COL ’17), an incoming transfer student, said that the added resource of a peer mentor has helped her transition into campus life.
“It’s hard going in as a sophomore,” Fedor said. “You don’t want your hand to be held like freshmen’s are, but we still have a lot of questions. It’s nice that they take an extra step for that.”
Although Fedor has not corresponded with her peer mentor frequently, she said that it is reassuring to know that a resource is always available to her.
“I didn’t end up asking [my mentor] that many in-depth questions, but it was definitely nice to know that there were people on campus who were there to help if I did have any questions and to have as a resource especially going through things like preregistration for the first time, or just knowing that if I needed help with the transition, that there was someone there who I had as a resource,” Fedor said.
Margolis said she hopes that this program will be part of a bigger process to make Georgetown more transfer friendly over the next few years.
“I’m hoping that it’s … raising the transfer experience at Georgetown,” Margolis said.“Transferring is never going to be easy. I would never go back and do it any other way, but it’s not easy to transfer schools. I’m hoping that gradually this gets picked up and someone keeps doing it year after year and it becomes the best school in the country to transfer to.”