The University of Miami’s Business School successfully creates an environment conducive for learning through its peer counseling program.
The program started at UM 15 years ago with just 12 peer advisors. Today, it has grown to include more than 70 peer counselors, including 10 team leaders that have created a hierarchy resulting in better relationships, increased retention among freshmen and academic achievement for those in the program.
An application and interview process begins in the Spring semester to find the most qualified and enthusiastic potential peer advisors. Over the summer, each peer counselor is paired with incoming freshmen who have declared a major or interest in the School of Business. The relationship then begins by phone and email contact so that freshmen are able to step on campus in August already knowing someone they can turn to and ask questions as they settle into life at Miami.
“The new freshmen greatly benefit by having an experienced Business student as a resource to guide them and answer their questions student to student about classes, exams and a myriad of situations, not only academics,” said Karen Donno, Academic Advisor in the School of Business. “The Peer Counselors are trained to direct freshmen to the resources and campus organizations that will assist them in a smooth transition and a successful college experience.”
Students involved in the program as peer counselors attest to the impact their own peer counselor had during their freshman year.
“Having a peer counselor when I was a freshman was a huge help to me and I know how important it was for me to have someone to talk to whenever I wasn’t sure of something. I want to be able to contribute to that and to continue helping freshman make their transition into college,” said sophomore peer counselor Callie Tomasso.
The peer counseling program has been so successful that other schools on the campus have patterned similar programs after the Business school’s outstanding advising method. Peer advising makes for an easier and systematic way of ensuring that each student’s individual needs are met and that their questions do not go unanswered. Ultimately, this allows students in the Business school to achieve more and become involved students who are concerned with their fellow peers’ triumphs as well.
“The program is successful because of the closeness of the business school admissions faculty and student bodies,” Tomasso explained. “Everyone is so friendly and ready and willing to help.”
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