Student Volunteers Needed

Dear students,

The Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at the University of Sydney would like to invite you to become a volunteer mentor for a new Faculty-wide first year mentoring program in 2020. Entitled “Communities of Support”, th​is extended mentoring program aims to address student transition, support, and retention issues among some of our most underrepresented cohorts ​as they enter and undertake their first year of study. ​We also hope to contribute to student well-being and satisfaction ​by encouraging stronger communities among our FASS student cohort. 

About the Communities of Support (CoS) Program

Transitioning to life at University can be challenging. How do change your timetable? How do you keep on top of your workload while working a part-time job? How do you prepare for exams or undertake research for your assessments? How do you make new friends in a Faculty as big and as broad as FASS? First year students are often overwhelmed by the difficult task of adjusting to the many new experiences they encounter in their first year of study. Those students who are among the first in their family to attend university or who come from low-socioeconomic backgrounds are also less likely to have members of their family or community who can provide effective support as they transition to higher education. We would like to do more to help. 

The FASS Communities of Support Mentoring Program offers extended peer support to first year students across their first year of study. Open to all FASS first year undergraduates but designed to cater specifically to those of low-socioeconomic backgrounds and/or first in family, the program offers weekly mentoring throughout Semester 1, fortnightly mentoring in Semester 2, and follows a structured schedule of topics that progress in-step with the first year experience. 

Your Involvement

As a Communities of Support (CoS) Mentor, you would be helping to enrich the first year experience for our ‘mentee’ program participants. As a second year, third year (or beyond!), you have already learned a lot about how life at University works, and what skills, strategies, and ‘life-hacks’ help you to do well in your studies. We be thrilled if you could offer your general knowledge, experience, and your support to those who are just starting out at University. 

Mentoring is a very rewarding experience, and your involvement in the CoS program will help to develop your leadership capacity, communication skills, and your own cultural competencies in working with diverse student groups. We also hope that the program will offer a stronger sense of community for all of our Mentors and Fellows across the Faculty. Finally,  all volunteer mentors will receive will receive a $100 shopping voucher on completion of the program. 

If you are willing to participate as a CoS Mentor, you will be matched with 2-4 first year participants who will become your ‘mentee group’ across the year. We will provide you with mentoring training, as well as a calendar of topics and relevant ‘talking points’ to help guide your mentoring sessions. You will also be paired with a postgraduate CoS Leadership Fellow who you will meet with once a month to consult on your progress, ask questions, and who will offer you general support. Please note that your time commitment to the project will involve one hour per week throughout Semester 1 and one hour per fortnight throughout Semester 2 for your small group mentoring sessions, and one additional hour per month for coffee catch-ups with your allocated Fellow. All mentoring sessions and Fellows coffees will be arranged according to your availability. 

CoS Mentor Registration

All FASS students who are second-year ​undergraduates and above are invited to apply to become a volunteer ​CoS Mentor. We particularly encourage students who are themselves E12 scholarship recipients, are among the first generation in your family to go to University, ​are from diverse cultural backgrounds, come from a regional/rural area​, and/or belong to other under-represented cohorts at the University. Please note that if you have already signed up for an existing mentoring program, you can still enrol for this program, but we expect you to honour your original commitment as well.

You can apply by completing the CoS Mentor Registration at this link: Applications are due by 9:00 pm, on Tuesday, March 3.

If you are selected for the program you will be asked to attend a welcome and training ​session on Friday, March 6, from 10am – 3pm. ​Alternative arrangements can be made for those who cannot attend. 

Thanks in advance for your help and participation, and please do feel free to contact our CoS Project Officer, Mr Simon Wyatt-Spratt if you have any questions (

Associate Professor Melissa Hardie (English)

Professor Michael McDonnell (History)

Dr. Kieryn McKay (Project Manager)

Simon Wyatt-Spratt (Project Officer)