The end of August and beginning of September was a busy time for all college students, especially first-year students. Not only were the first-year students preoccupied with moving to campus, they also had to acclimate to a brand new environment, schedule, and lifestyle. In addition to move-in day mentoring, sixteen Torch Leaders were there to guide students through their first few weeks in Bergstrom and their first semester at SNC. Torch Leaders are paired up and assigned to groups primarily based on majors and minors so mentors can give the most applicable advice to their mentees. Torch Leaders work together to give advice for a range of majors as well, making sure the groups are all connected and informed. Within these groups of about 10 students and mentors, leaders cover everything from the basics of life at SNC to completing fun team building exercises in weekly meetings until midterms. After midterms, the meetings become more sporadic and informal.
After a scavenger hunt on move-in day (head on over to Grace’s overview of the day!), Week One Torch Leader meetings covered campus basics, including a debrief of the first few days on campus and a quick overview of important campus offices. Students got the chance to reconnect with their Torch Leaders, ask questions, and, more importantly, connect with one another about their experiences. Week Two examined the differences between high school and college workloads, as well as stress and life in general. First-years had the chance to learn about time management strategies from their Torch Leaders and from each other during discussion. Students were also prepped for the Involvement Fair that occurred during Week Three’s meeting time (check out Emilie’s article covering the Fair!) by learning about the various clubs and organizations located on campus.
As a fun, collaboration activity during Week Four, Torch groups took part in the First Annual Marshmallow Challenge. Groups were divided into two teams, and using provided supplies which included uncooked spaghetti noodles, marshmallows and string, competed to build the tallest tower. Prizes were bestowed upon the winners from each group, as well as overall torch groups. This activity was designed to focus students on their individual strengths and how these attributes can assist the group as a whole. Groups also discussed big picture strengths and how those strengths could help with everyday life. In the week prior to Long Weekend, Torch Leaders could choose stress relieving activities or mood-boosting gifts for their students. Groups partook in everything from volleyball, drinking coffee at the Exchange, to receiving letters of encouragement or candy from Torch Leaders.
This fall, first-year students will also learn about the advisement process from their mentors, discuss registration, and become familiar with planning for the spring semester. This is in addition to an All-Honors meeting, (happening next week!) where Torch Leaders will make sure all students are comfortable with the advising and registration process. Several times over this semester, the groups will take a more informal tone and meet to discuss as needed, or as finals and major events occur. Mentors will also be present to answer questions about specific majors and minors, housing options and other opportunities SNC has to offer. Finally, to conclude the semester, mentors will be supporting their mentees through their final project in Honors 101 at Lightning Night. Torch groups will meet back up second semester for a handful of key spring dates such as Life Raft, housing application time and other events as they occur.