First years: how a student mentor can help you!

Firstly, congratulations on your A Level exam results and for gaining a place at the University of Sheffield, a place that has been my second home for three years now (and I wouldn’t have had it any other way).

You might have many questions about university life before starting your new course, but might not know who to ask.  My advice would be to apply for a student mentor, which was something that I was very grateful for in my first year.  It’s really simple – all you need to do is sign up for one by creating your own profile on your pre-registration tasks (you should have received a link to this in an email).  It will ask you to tell them a bit about yourself, such as your interests and why you would like a mentor.

Here are some reasons why student mentoring helped me in my first year:

  • A student mentor can give you honest, helpful advice that you may not be able to get from a tutor/lecturer.

Your student mentor has been through one or more years of university by now, so have gathered a plethora of knowledge about university life.  You can ask them almost anything you would like and they will answer it honestly, or direct you to the correct services.  These questions can be really simple things such as the best places to go to eat, where the washing machine services are in halls (you will unfortunately have to do some washing at some point), and how to get involved in societies/volunteering/part-time work.  There is no question too silly or stupid, and if you have genuine concerns about moving into a brand new place, student mentors are on hand to help you whether that be over the phone, through email/text, or in person.

  • Not sure where anything is? Student mentors will know the area and will be able to help you!

If you’re anything like me, you might have a poor sense of direction.  A quick text to your student mentor, and they can let you know where something is!  For example, you might be having trouble locating that Intro Week talk that you need to be at in the next couple of hours.  Or even if you’re having trouble locating a book in the library and you’re not sure how to use the systems.  They’re on hand to help you if you feel uncomfortable asking someone else, and can point you in the right direction to making those steps yourself in the future.  You could even ask them to give you a tour around campus or the nearby area during Intro Week.

  • Student mentors can help you with course-related questions.

You are normally matched with a mentor that studies/has studied the same course you are taking right now.  That means you can ask them anything course-related, such as which modules they enjoyed, where to find cheap textbooks, how to get further academic help if you need it, etc.  They can give you honest answers about how they found the course, and can possibly recommend modules that match your interests.  They’ve also probably had contact with many different lecturers on the course, so can signpost you to the relevant lecturers for the topic area (if your lecturer is busy one week, for example).

  • Student mentors are a friendly face around campus.

University can be lonely sometimes, and it is completely normal to feel homesick.  Student mentors are around when you feel down, and if you just need to talk to someone you have met before.  They are more than happy to have a chat with you about things you’re struggling with, and can help you find services that you might need on campus.  It was incredibly helpful to meet up with my mentor to give me that boost for the week if I felt like going home.

  • Finally, student mentors can inspire you to help others.

Having a student mentor in first year meant that I wanted to go on to help others too.  I am now going into my third year as a student mentor and it has been such a rewarding experience.  My mentor inspired me to do the incredible things that she did, and pass on the knowledge that I had received from her.  Sheffield is one big community, and we can all learn from each other to grow into the fantastic individuals that we are.

I hope you found this blog post useful, and enjoy your first year as a Sheffield student!  You will have a blast.  I feel so old now going into my Masters year!

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