The power of Peer Leaders on freshman lives

Photo by Kiyah Crittendon

After going through weeks of training and preparation through the summer, Tech’s Residence Life staff has finally ushered in the new 2013 class. To the entering freshmen, the most important people on this staff are the Peer Leaders (PLs) on each of their halls who dedicate their time and efforts to making sure all of the freshmen are geared for a successful transition to life at Tech.

Tech prides itself on providing a completely immersive and enriching first-year experience to new students, and much of the reason that freshmen can easily and successfully adapt to the challenging lifestyle of this school is through their connections with other students.

The best example of this is through the Freshmen Experience program in each of the freshmen dorms; two PLs on each hall help guide students through the massive change in their lives that is college.

For most freshmen, these PLs are some of the first upperclassmen that they interact with, and who are ready to help them in any way they can.

Stacia Burke, a second-year student who is a PL in Freeman Hall, shared her perspective on how her residents adjust to college life.

“The adjustment to college life doesn’t only take place inside the classroom, where there is an increased difficulty level of coursework from what freshmen have encountered in high school, but it’s in every aspect of their lives,” Burke said. “Some people can deal with this transition better than others. For a lot of freshmen, this is the first time they’ve had to share a room with someone, so they have to learn how to compromise with their roommate in order to minimize conflicts.

“For most, this is the first time they’re living away from their parents, so now they have to learn how to make responsible decisions with their newfound freedom. Considering that freshmen have to adjust to having a completely different lifestyle, it is understandable that some find this transition to be challenging. PLs get to witness their residents’ highs and lows of freshman year. We are here to offer guidance and support to our residents to help them have a successful adjustment to college life.”

PLs are direct facilitators of the relationship between roommates in their first year at Tech. Each set of roommates must work together to create a roommate contract to help them get to know each other and have a friendly relationship throughout their time together. PLs are fully trained in conflict resolution and teamwork, among other skills.

Getting freshmen acclimated to a new living situation is only one of the facets of what a PL can do for students.

There are many different aspects of freshmen life, specifically at Tech, that students are concerned about beyond simply learning to live with other people.

When asked what she would have changed about her freshman year, Burke said, “I would tell myself to be more proactive with my internship search. I would have gone to more career fairs and tried to make more connections that would have afforded me the opportunity to get a great internship that could in the future lead to a full-time job offer.”

As a matter of fact, freshmen dorms and PLs have even put on mini career fair planning workshops in the past to a crowd of students, showing that the Residence Life staff works on exposing first-years to a variety of challenges the residents might encounter.

Peer Leaders also work to plan bonding activities for their halls, including game nights, dinners, or excursions off campus. They work closely with Hall Council to ensure participation in all aspects of residence life.

In addition, PLs work with with their residents, informing them through emails and meetings about campus-wide events that they can go to for fun or enrichment.

Getting accustomed to college life is tough on any new freshman, but Tech provides exceptionally trained and helpful students who are working hard around the clock, year-round to give Tech freshmen the best possible experience in their first year.