A Cohesive Cohort
We use community time each morning to build authentic relationships between the staff and students as well as between Fellows. A sense of trust and willingness to be vulnerable are critical conditions for students to fully engage in deeper learning experiences in the summer. It also creates strong bonds of friendship and support that will last beyond the program into college.
Having a strong sense of social connectedness is an important part of successfully transitioning to college. We intentionally focus on building a sense of unity in the cohort as well as help students find belonging among smaller groupings such as clubs, and affinity and interest groups. During the summer, we group fellows with others in “homegroups” who will be attending the same college so they can have a ready-built support network on campus in the fall. Each “homegroup” is assigned a Peer Mentor.
A Social-Emotional Foundation
We believe that social-emotional skill-development is foundational to building resiliency, optimism, and persistence that will serve Fellows in college and beyond. We focus on building self-efficacy, self-advocacy, reflection, and teamwork skills across all their daily activities.
Last year, we partnered with the Harvard PEAR Institute (Partnerships in Education and Resiliency) to provide training for our Peer Mentors and staff as well as facilitate workshops with our Fellows.
We know that supportive and knowledgeable “near peers” can have a positive impact on student resilience and persistence in college. Peer Mentors play a critical role in supporting our Fellows as they consider their identity and how it relates to their past experiences and future goals. Advice from Peer Mentors helps students plan strategies to navigate feelings of belonging, the challenges of self-advocacy, as well as prioritize emotional and physical health and wellness.
Peer Mentors facilitate daily meetings with “homegroups” of 5-6 Fellows during community time. They provide an empathic listening ear, share their own personal experiences, and give that extra nudge to help individual students.
100% necessary to have this role because not everyone is comfortable with the ‘professor’. With a mentor there’s a bridge; [the peer mentors] also helped create a sense of community through home groups; I’ve never had a mentor before so having that was different.”
“100% necessary to have a peer mentor role because not everyone is comfortable with the ‘professor’. With a mentor there’s a bridge; they also helped create a sense of community through home groups; I’ve never had a mentor before so having that was different.”
STUDENT, CTP – SUMMER 2020
We provide ongoing support to students in their first year of college in a number of ways:
- Peer Mentors continue to connect with Fellows on a regular basis by providing one-to-one check-ins through text, phone calls, emails as well as a November “homegroup” reunion.
- We hold whole-cohort check-ins in October and December as well as workshops in the spring
- All Fellows also receive timely resources in a monthly newsletter. You can find an example here.
WPS · 196 Herrick Rd. · Newton, MA · 02459 · firstname.lastname@example.org