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Peer Mentor Program

Two student laugh while walking around the HSS Amphitheatre.

What is the peer mentoring program?

The purpose of the SDS peer mentoring program is to help first-year students become knowledgeable about and comfortable with, the UTK campus, SDS, and college life in general by pairing them with a returning student who is also registered with SDS.  The goal of the program is to assist students with their transition to college throughout the fall semester and to give them a sense of mattering and belonging within the University of Tennessee, Knoxville community.

What are the benefits of the program?

The peer mentoring program offers Mentees opportunities to:

  • Increase a sense of connectedness and belonging to campus and peers
  • Gain confidence and decrease anxiety during the transition to college
  • Improve academic skills and grades
  • Receive guidance from experienced SDS students about utilizing accommodations and communicating with faculty
  • Learn about the many great student resources on campus

The peer mentoring program offers Mentors opportunities to:

  • Develop leadership and interpersonal skills
  • Be a true VOL in service to others
  • Enhance your resume

How are matches made?

Mentors and mentees complete an application or information sheet, respectively, that provides information about themselves such as hobbies, interests, and major.  Mentors and mentees are also asked for preferences in the matching process, such as gender or disability.  SDS strives to match mentors and mentees based on shared interests, as well as honoring any preferences provided.  Ultimately, matches are at the discretion of SDS staff, depending on the availability and interests of all participants.  Matches are made, and communicated to participants, throughout late summer and early fall.

What will I do as a participant in the program?

The requirements of the program are actually quite simple and are meant to allow participants’ unique interests and needs to be honored.

  • Meet once per week to talk about how things are going and discuss guidance and resources
  • Communicate throughout the week as questions and needs arise
  • Receive and give support on topics such as campus activities, academics, accommodation use, and working with faculty
  • Participate in at least one campus activity together during the semester

How do I join?


Mentees may apply each summer and early fall by completing the Application Form. Registration with SDS is a prerequisite for being matched with a mentor.


Information about the peer mentoring program is sent to current SDS students each spring.  Prospective Mentors may then sign up for an information session to learn more about the program requirements.  Applications are provided at the conclusion of each information session.  Accepted applicants are then invited to complete training later in the spring semester.  The commitment is only for one fall semester, but interested peer mentors may apply to return the next year.


Updated: 3/28/2022