Helping students help students
The Faculty of Arts, McGill’s largest faculty, can be a confusing place for new students. While there are professional advisors on hand to demystify degree requirements, the course registration process and more, each is responsible for about 1,300 individuals. Fortunately, students have an additional resource they can turn to for help – one staffed by their peers: the Arts Student Advising Program (ASAP).
Over the course of Campaign McGill, donations to the Dean of Arts Development Fund have supported ASAP, a unique initiative that trains upper-year undergraduates to assist their classmates. “Philanthropy has transformed it into an innovative outreach program that understands the student experience,” says Nellie Voudouris, BA’90, an advisor in the Faculty of Arts.
Indeed, ASAP advisors are equipped to offer advice on a range of common concerns. “Especially when they first get to McGill, sometimes students feel more comfortable speaking with students like them, who have experienced life at the University,” says Luke Powers, an English major who has served as an ASAP advisor since 2011. Powers and his colleagues field questions on all aspects of campus life in person, over the phone and on social media. “Usually, professional advisors can give students more factual information, but ASAP can provide students with insights based on their own time at McGill.” Working with the program has taught Powers to navigate the University and synthesize important information. It has also sharpened his interpersonal skills. “There are times when students come to us and have complicated situations and don’t know what to do,” he says. “We are there to help them figure out what they need to do and assure them that things will be alright.”