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Why Are There Juniors in Freshman Seminar?

September 29, 2014

by Rachel Dasaro

Well, it’s that time of year again. School has started, the leaves are changing, and students are walking into class 15 minutes late with a pumpkin spice latte in their hands. My slightly bitter tone can only mean one thing: I’m a peer mentor for a freshmen College Writing class.

This is my first year as a peer mentor, and I’m absolutely ecstatic. There’s just something I find so rewarding about working with the freshmen at Purchase College. Granted, I’m not much older than any of them, but I’m in the best position to be there for them, both academically and on a more personal level. Why, you ask? I’m a junior. When it comes to mentoring, juniors are the best you can possibly get. We’re at the ideal point in our college career because we have the best “view”. We’re far enough away from our own freshmen year that we can look back and properly asses the screw-ups and mistakes that we made, so that the freshmen we mentor don’t have to! We’re also close enough though that we can empathize with our younger peers, and help them through the struggles of transitioning to college that go beyond academics.

When I sat in on my first College Writing class, the professor asked the students to say what they had heard about college, academically. There were some tentative answers at first. “It’s big”, “You’ll have a lot more homework”, and “It’ll be difficult”. The professor and I could see that they were holding back, until one hand in the back slowly rose. “I was told that people wouldn’t care if we succeed or not”. All of a sudden, the students began to sit up and agree, as if someone had flipped a switch. It was troubling to sit through that, because I remember being told the same thing. Yet there I was, my sole job in that class was to be there for the students to help them, and they were insisting that it wouldn’t make a difference to anyone.

I took it upon myself to explain that that was absolutely not the case. People care about whether or not you succeed, but in college, you’re not going to have anyone holding your hand. This is the time where people claim to be adults, but sometimes fail to make responsible decisions. We all understand that the transition to college is difficult, but when you walk in to class late with a haze of eau de tobacco as your signature scent, your priorities need a bit of readjusting. That’s why I’m here. I’m the portal between academics and social lives. I’m old enough to not be afraid to call you out when you’re not putting in your all (because believe me, I know what that looks like from experience), but young enough to be able to relate to you in a way your professors can’t. I have suffered heartbreak, loss, and failure, but because of these things I’ve grown into someone who’s confident, self-assured, and is amazing at time management. So when you start college, hope you have a junior as a peer mentor. You can’t get better than us.