Blue Key program pairs new students with upperclassmen mentors
Published: Friday, September 21, 2012
Updated: Friday, September 21, 2012 02:09
Tufts Entrepreneurs Society this semester piloted Blue Key, a program designed to help new students navigate the school and learn about opportunities at Tufts.
The program pairs incoming freshman and transfer students with upperclassmen in order to give the new students a personal connection to a returning student on campus, according to Albert Nichols, one program’s founders.
“The [new students] are paired with older versions of themselves so that they can learn the successes, pitfalls and areas to improve from their upperclassmen mentor,” Nichols, a senior, said.
There are currently 180 members in Blue Key, and the group’s ultimate goal is to help people grow and connect with each other, according to Nichols.
He observed that many freshmen do not know about all of the opportunities and resources available at Tufts and are often in the dark about how to pursue their interests.
“There is a huge disconnect between juniors and seniors and the incoming freshmen,” he said.
Since anyone on campus can apply to be a mentor, Blue Key has a wide variety of participating students, Nichols said.
He explained that freshmen and transfers were paired with mentors based on similarities in interest, adding that they tried to match up each new student with an upperclassman who shares their potential major and participates in the same extracurricular activities.
The application for new students included the option to check off interests, including sports, internships, Greek life, community service, non-profits, arts, research, business, partying and writing.
“All the mentors and all the mentees filled out a questionnaire on our interests based on activities, what we like to do around campus and our academic interests, and they tried to match us up as closely as possible with someone who had our same interests,” sophomore Lauren Taylor, a Blue Key mentor, said.
Adam Kochman, one of the Blue Key mentees, said the program did a good job of matching up the students based on interest.
“My mentor and I have very similar academic interests as well as extracurricular interests,” Kochman, a freshman, said. “He’s the president of his fraternity, and I had marked down that I was interested in Greek life. He’s an economics major and political science minor, and I put those two as my main two academic interests.”
The program held its first event early this month, with students participating in a variety of ice-breaking activities to get to know each other and network, Nichols said.
Another event planned for the end of the semester will give the Blue Key participants an opportunity to talk about the semester overall, according to Nichols. Freshmen and transfers will be celebrated in a rising-up ceremony for completing their first semester.
Nichols said that one requirement for the mentors is to plan an outing with their mentees, which could be anything from an ice cream trip to Davis Square or a lunch date on campus.
“People at Tufts are smart and driven enough to continue to grow the relationship they begin in this program,” he said.
Nichols hopes that the group will collaborate with the Office of Undergraduate Admissions to include a page about Blue Key in the information packet mailed to new students.
“This has been a bit of a trial but it has been a great success,” he said. “We have big shoes to fill for this year.”
Sharon Lam and Laina Piera contributed reporting to this article.