Faculty Mentors for First-Year Students

All first-year students would benefit from early direct communication with a faculty member.  This initial interaction is less about a specific discipline and more about an academic introduction to the campus. First-year faculty mentors can provide the student with information, guidance and constructive feedback regarding the campus and community. This relationship allows for the transfer of knowledge and experience while providing a supportive and encouraging environment. As faculty mentors, we should be engaged, approachable, and accessible.  More importantly, faculty mentors serve as an academic role model on campus.  Finally, the first-year faculty mentor should explain to students how they are only one part of a network of mentors and advisors students will develop.  Students should be encouraged to find other mentors over the course of their academic career.  The first-year faculty mentor can help direct students and make some of those initial connections.

Responsibilities of Faculty Mentors

Faculty mentoring can include, but is not limited to:

  • what is it like to be a scholar
  • sharing general academic knowledge and experience relating to Binghamton University
  • sharing academic knowledge related to the faculty member's area of expertise with students
  • offering advice and support while the student transitions and throughout their college experience at Binghamton, particularly in the first year
  • providing information and referral to appropriate offices and individuals (i.e, Transfer Office, Counseling Center, Academic Advising, Health Services, Career Development)
  • encouraging students to take initiative and seek support from other faculty, peers, staff and alumni
  • serving as a sounding board for students on a range of issues and concerns

Faculty mentors are not responsible for:

  • Advising on the specifics of General Education requirements, college requirements and major requirements
  • Planning or developing student schedules/course selection outside their discipline
  • Granting approvals for students to register
  • Psychological counseling

First-year faculty mentors are expected to make initial contact and meet with the student at least once at the beginning of the semester.  While some students may not respond to this contact, they should know that there is a faculty member that they can reach out to for information, guidance, and perhaps just a referral to a different faculty member in the department the student is interested in.

Responsibilities of College and Major Advisers

In contrast, College and Major Advisers are responsible for:

  • providing a specific knowledge base and area of expertise that a student needs to make well-informed decisions
  • providing accurate information regarding policies and procedures
  • designing a degree plan using a recommended course sequence
  • assisting students in clarifying their goals
  • helping students develop action plans
  • informing students of opportunities for involvement in activities
  • providing tools and resources to help students articulate and accomplish their goals
  • working cooperatively with other campus departments, faculty and student services offices to providing comprehensive information
  • helping students navigate through the university efficiently and expediently
  • helping students develop life-long learning and self management skills

Advisers should be able to expect students to be invested in the advising process, take responsibility for their own actions, take initiative, come prepared to all meetings and follow through after the advising session.