School of Communication Utilizes Peer Advisors to Enhance Student Experience

February 1, 2017
Peer advisors

Incoming students are lucky to have a diverse list of resources available to them. The university has academic advisors available in every college, hundreds of student organizations to get involved with and engaged faculty to assist with academics.

One thing the School of Communication was missing was a way for new students to hear directly from upperclassmen about experiences for guidance in their journey. This year, Ohio State’s School of Communication launched the peer advisor program to give new students a resource to ask peers questions about adjusting to university life.

“We hope to create a community so that students develop a strong, positive identity as a student in our school,” Sarah Sipos, peer advisor coordinator, said. “We see upper-class students as a crucial resource for making this happen.”

This school year, Sarah Hearon, a fourth year Strategic Communications major, and Aaron Tomich, a third year Public Affairs Journalism major, served as the School of Communication’s first peer advisors. Below they each reflect on their experiences in the position.   

Q: Why did you decide to apply to be a peer advisor?

Hearon: I wanted to be a peer advisor because I've learned so much through my time at OSU and felt like I had a lot of good advice to give. I wanted freshmen to be aware of opportunities that would not only look good on a resume, but also help them find their place at a big university. 

Sarah Hearon

Q: What are your responsibilities as a peer advisor?

Tomich: My mentality going into the job was that I wanted to be a reference to these new first years in all aspects of college life.  Yes, a primary goal and role of the position was to help teach the survey course and answer questions about the majors, involvement, etc., but I knew there was a chance to do more than that. I felt I had the ability to connect with the students in a way that was more than just that of a TA.

Q: What are the most common questions students ask?

Hearon: The questions I answer range from "how do I use schedule planner to register for classes?" to "how do I get an internship?" and "does being in college get easier over time?" For all new students, whether they are freshmen or transfer students, there is a lot of technical things to learn and a lot of new changes emotionally. 

Q: What does a typical meeting with a student look like?

Tomich: I usually see what their major aspirations are and what they potentially want to do job-wise with their studies. This is a way to immediately see their interests and start a whole slew of unique conversations, many of which I find the opportunity to share my own experiences and encourage them to continually find ways to pursue their own.

Q: What has been your favorite part of being a peer advisor?

Hearon: My favorite thing about being a peer advisor is getting to know new people. I look forward to having coffee with students and hearing about their dream jobs, or answering their questions about roommates and making new friends. Seeing freshmen go through   this process reminds me of myself. I'm jealous watching them do and see everything for the first time.

Q: What have you gained from your experience as a peer advisor?

Tomich: It has been special helping out and getting the chance to become a first contact for some of the students I meet with. So knowing the impact I have had already, along with some of the relationships I have formed, has been special.  Being a part of a team in the School of Communication has improved my skill set in many ways, including general communication and teamwork skills, along with organizational experience that I may not have gained through other jobs.

Aaron Tomic

The peer advisors typically spend five to 10 hours a week working, whether it’s attending School of Communication events, holding office hours, reaching out to students or preparing for survey class.

“Sarah and Aaron have done an incredible job co-teaching the survey course, meeting up with students one-on-one and providing real exposure to life as a student in the School of Communication,” Sipos said.

If you are interested in being a peer advisor for the 2017-2018 school year, apply through an application on the School of Communication website beginning February 15.

Article written by student Shelby Stoddart.