Argo PALs help incoming students find their way academically
The transition from high school to university campus can be daunting for some, but UWF has eight students on the frontlines to provide support academically.
They are called Argo PALs or Argo Peer Assistant Leaders. The program is in its second year and works directly with the Delphi living-learning community through the Department of Student Transition Programs and Housing and Residence Life. There are six Argo PALS in Martin Hall and two in Southside Village where they serve as advisors, confidants, mentors and guidance counselors. Through the program, the Argo PALs are the voice of experience for new students on a variety of topics, such as making time to study or arranging their class schedule.
“While resident assistants (RAs) help incoming students settle into their residence halls and meet new friends, Argo PALs provide help in the area of academics,” said Kaitlin Oyler, coordinator for Student Transition Programs. “They are like academic RAs.”
Each Argo PAL gets to know each of the 60 students under his or her purview and living in the same space through informal, but scheduled gatherings and just saying hello in the hallways. Also, once a month, the PALs conduct “Knock and Talk” – it’s where each Argo PAL knocks on the door of each student to discuss some pertinent information and to drop off some written information on the topic as well. The program is a way to disperse information, in a personal way, to new students.
Also, each year a book is designated the “common read” and all eight Argo PALs and in-coming students are invited to gather to discuss the book at a scheduled event open to all students on campus. This year’s book is “Waiting for the Barbarians.”
Oyler said participation in the mentoring program benefits everyone involved. Being an Argo PAL allows students to develop or polish leadership skills while at the same time building their self confidence. Plus, some students just enjoy serving as a mentor to others.
UWF junior Jodie Gray, a third-year Argo PAL, is an example.
“I feel lucky to have found an academic track that suits me and is really enjoyable to be a part of,” said Gray, who is majoring in physics. “I hope to help freshmen who may not have found their calling discover their strengths, and hopefully, set them in a direction that will make their (academic) college experience more fun than they expected.”
For more information about Argo PALs, contact Kaitlin Oyler, coordinator for student transition program, at (850) 474-2384 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the Department of Student Transition Programs in Building 21.
By Susie Forrester, University Marketing Communications