Making mates at uni has never been easier
Starting university can be an overwhelming experience for some students – the campuses are large, the classes new and the faces unfamiliar. But new students at the University of Western Sydney can receive an extra hand when it comes to learning the tricks of the university trade and making new friends.
The UWS Student Welfare Service introduced the MATES@UWS program in Spring 2011 and will start its fifth consecutive semester on Monday 22 July 2013. MATES@UWS stands for Mentoring and Transition Equals Success at UWS and although the name seems like a bit of a mouthful, the premise is simple: help new students make friends, network with other students, and gain knowledge and skills to settle into life at university.
MATES@UWS matches new students with students in later years based on campus and course, and helps to facilitate a mentoring program that runs for the first six weeks of the semester. Renée Boucher, MATES@UWS Program Coordinator, feels the mentoring style of the program has a number of benefits.
“Mentors help to introduce new students to the campus environment and the university learning style through casual weekly catch-ups, often held over a coffee,” says Ms Boucher.
“The meetings are a time for new students, or ‘mentees’, to meet each other, ask questions, or discuss any concerns or anxieties they are feeling, all within a safe and respectful environment.”
Tina Read, Bachelor of Music student and Penrith campus Mentor, agrees.
“Students often are not aware of the services and support that University can offer them,” says Tina.
“Providing them with the knowledge they need to go through their studies helps them to settle into UWS faster and reduces the stress of a new environment. Also talking to someone who has been through what you are going through now can make everything seem more achievable.”
While mentees exit the MATES program armed with the knowledge to make new friends, get their assignments in on time, and take the guess work out of navigating the campuses, the mentors are left equally as skilled.
“Being a mentor builds confidence and allows for a person to gain skills in leadership and communication,” says Carla Morgan, Bachelor of Psychology student and Bankstown campus Mentor.
“I learned a lot about how to be a good communicator and support person. I also learned that everyone goes through similar experiences when first starting out at University and it was great to share, help and learn from each other.”
Tina and Carla both agree that good MATES@UWS mentors need to be open, honest, approachable, and have a willingness to answer questions and provide assistance.
MATES@UWS runs across all UWS campuses each semester. The official mentoring program kicks off in week 1 and runs for the first six weeks of semester with the mentors receiving training in the weeks prior to semester starting.
If you are interested in becoming at Mentor or Mentee, you can sign up on the MATES@UWS website.
16 July 2013