Mentoring and Advising for Students

Strengthening student connections with a network of faculty, staff, and alumnae mentors early in a student's career helps each student engage more fully with the liberal arts and realize the distinctive promise of a small college. Enhancing the value of these connections for all students creates a climate of achievement in which each student can take effective charge of their own education. It is recognized that all efforts to improve mentoring networks must be sensitive to and informed by an attentiveness to multicultural diversity.

Dean of Studies/Academic Class Deans Advising

Goal: Enable students to develop strategies for success by assisting with course selection and major declaration, addressing issues related to credit shortages or overloads, preparing students for internships or studying abroad, monitoring academic progress toward meeting graduation requirements, and nominating students for honors and awards.

The Office of the Dean of Studies and Academic Deans continues to develop their advising programs, evaluate how they work with students, particularly students of color and those with limited financial resources, and engage faculty in discussing how best to connect with and advise these students. They have increased awareness of the need for students in their first two years to have a “team” of mentors/advisors.  The Office of the Academic Deans continues to support the WEED scholarship program for students of color.

(Spring 2006) Interactions with the MCCL heightened awareness of the need to consider the significance of campus climate issues in the work of Academic Deans with students and faculty.  The Deans have increased the attention paid to how issues of race, the experiences of students of color in our community, and their perceptions of those experiences impact their academic work and the work of others. The Dean of Studies established a working relationship with the Coordinator of Multicultural Affairs in an effort to make connections with some of the student-initiated, academically-oriented programs in the cultural houses.

(Fall 2006) Faculty advising training video was developed.

Faculty Advising and Mentoring

Goal: Improve academic advising of all students from enrollment through graduation, and eliminate the unevenness in the quality of faculty advising.

(Fall 2005) Expanded and enhanced pre-health advising under the direction of the newly appointed Associate Director of Pre-Health and Science Advising, David Gardner.

(Spring 2006) Orientation workshops for new department chairs run by the Dean of Faculty.

(Spring 2006) Initial efforts taken by science faculty to review curriculum, pedagogy, advising, and mentoring  (in part sparked by the faculty 2005-06 seminar series led by the Director of Academic Development).

(Spring 2006) Committee convened to consider mentoring and advising as part of tenure, reappointment, and post-tenure reviews.

(Summer 2006) Pilot summer cascading mentorship program set up by the Director of the Science Center for incoming first-year students of color with science interests.

Peer Academic Advisors Program

Goal:  Expand the fledgling Peer Academic Advisors (PAAs) program and the Undergraduate Academic Advisors (UAAs) program.

(Fall 2004) A pilot project was launched for the Peer Academic Advisors (PAAs) program and the Undergraduate Academic Advisors (UAAs) program

(Fall 2005) The academic deans in collaboration with the staff of the Office of Residential Life strengthened the training of a diverse group of Peer Academic Advisors (PAAs) based in the residence halls.   PAAs are trained prior to the orientation for new students, to prepare new students for advising meetings with faculty academic advisors.  They are equipped to respond to general questions from a group of new students with diverse backgrounds about the curriculum and academic regulations and to connect these students to other campus resources for further information or for the resolution of students' concerns.  Leah Glasser, Dean of First-Year Studies solicits from departments and interdisciplinary programs each year nominations for the positions of Undergraduate Academic Advisors (UAAs) who can respond to students' questions about majors in those departments and programs. Attention is paid to selecting a racially/ethnically diverse group of UAAs to act as department liaisons with other students.

Staff Mentoring

Goal: Support, value and encourage the role college staff have in advising our students, including the formal and informal connections.

Staff play an often underappreciated role in the creation and maintenance of academic climate for students. Academic administrative assistants, in particular, play an important role in administering academic policies and serving as intermediaries for faculty and students. Departments have been encouraged to bring administrative assistants and academic and co-curricular staff more deliberately into the advising and mentoring processes as well-informed resource persons who team supportively with students and faculty around academic achievement. Students are being educated in early academic advising sessions to consider staff members - administrative assistants, counselors, employment supervisors, student org. advisers, coaches, religious advisors, residential life staff  - as potential members of their mentoring networks.

Career Development Center

Goal: Connect academic and career counseling more comprehensively, and increase coordination of information and planning between academic departments and the CDC. Increase the accessibility and usefulness of the CDC to students of color.

(Fall 2006) Recognizing that aspects of social identity also influence and guide student career path decision making the CDC developed specific resources for a variety of Student Communities, including the ALANA, Frances Perkins, International, LGBTQQA, and Students with Disabilities communities.

(Feb. 2007) CDC Open House for Black History Month hosted by Director of Experiental Learning.

See also the Peer Mentoring and Networks section below.

Alumnae Mentoring

Goal: Encourage department and program chairs, the Alumnae Association, and the CDC to collaborate in building alumnae sisters’ networks that will bring alumnae in the professions into productive mentoring relationships with students.

(2006-2007) The Alumnae Association collaboratively initiated a host of highly successful programs to build alumnae/student connections and mentoring relationships, all with a careful eye to including and satisfying the needs of our diverse student body.

  • Undergraduate Class Events: The Alumnae Association, CDC, CGI, academic deans, and dean of students offices, and the individual class boards collaborated to plan four events—one for each class year. Each of these events involved bringing alumnae in the professions back to campus to share their insights with students with a focus on providing information, resources, advice and mentoring based on the needs of students at that particular juncture of their lives at Mount Holyoke.
  • Pre-Law Events: With funding from the Mellon Foundation, the Alumnae Association, Career Development Center, the Weissman Center for Leadership and the Liberal Arts, and the faculty advisory committee for pre-law, worked collaboratively to plan and implement three events that involved bringing alumnae lawyers and an alumna professor of law back to campus to give advice to students interested in exploring careers in Law.
  • Pre-Health Events: With funding from the Mellon Foundation, the Alumnae Association, Career Development Center, and the faculty pre-health advisory committee for pre-health worked collaboratively to plan and implement six events that focused on various areas in the health sciences. All of these events bringing alumnae in various health fields back to campus to share insights with students interested in exploring or pursuing careers in the health professions.

(Spring 2006) LifeNet launched allowing alumnae and students to locate one another, get in touch, and stay connected—through all the transitions of life.   (Nov. 2006) Asian/Asian-American Alumnae and Student Conference: More than one hundred alumnae, students, and faculty members attended the fourth triennial Asian/Asian-American Alumnae and Student Conference in November sponsored by the MHC Alumnae Association. The conference, “Facing East, Facing West: From the Gates of Mount Holyoke to a Global Citizenship,” explored both the idea of global citizenship and the multi-faceted relationships between Asians and Asian Americans.
(April 2007) On Saturday, April 14, Mount Holyoke students, faculty, staff, and alumnae gathered the first ever MHC LGBTQA Alumnae Conference, titled "Lesbians, Tortilleras, and BDOCs: 50 Years of Queer Activism."

Peer Mentoring and Networks

Goal: Encourage departments to continue to find ways to engage students in peer mentoring programs, and to attract more students of color to become peer mentors and to use the services of peer mentors.

(Fall 2007) Approximately 35% the SAW staff will be students of color and multilingual - up from 27% in 2006-07.  Each semester, the Speaking, Arguing, and Writing (SAW) Program - a primary component of the Weissman Center for Leadership and the Liberal Arts hires, trains, and places a student staff of approximately 60 mentors and assistants in speaking/writing-intensive courses or in the SAW Center.  Thirty-eight SAW mentors provide speaking/writing consultations for about 500 students per year from different academic disciplines; twenty-two SAW Center assistants provide similar services for about 1000 students per year, also from various disciplines. The SAW Program also collaborates with as many students on campus as possible through continual outreach. More than ever, the SAW staff is reaching out to provide workshops and other support for specific student academic and cultural organizations including SISTAHs in Science and Frances Perkins Scholars.  We have also encouraged members of these and other cultural groups to apply to the SAW program as future mentors/assistants.

(April 2006) Third annual  "Graduate Experience for Women of Color" hosted by the  Mount Holyoke College's Spring Mentoring Workshop Series Committee.

(Fall 2005) The Career Development Center (CDC) developed a team of Peer Career Advisors, uniquely trained Mount Holyoke students,  available to assist other students with anything from a resume or cover letter critique to an internship search.

(2005) Chemistry department's Peer-Led Undergraduate Mentoring System (PLUMS) continues to flourish.  Experienced chemistry and biochemistry majors run intensive workshops for both general and organic chemistry in support of faculty teaching. Majors can also gain valuable teaching experience, and reinforce their understanding, by serving as laboratory teaching assistants, instrumentation technicians, graders, and individual tutors.