Different academic units at George Mason University provide students opportunities to help one another as peer mentors, tutors, and ambassadors. At the Schar School, students can become peer advisors.
Peer academic advisors like Kennedi Wilson assist fellow Schar School students with course registration and concentration/minor selection while also acting as a resource to answer questions they may have about the school or programs. Peer academic advisors help ensure students achieve scholastic and personal success at Mason.
Wilson should know her way around a course catalog: She is a senior, double majoring in government and international politics and Spanish while also pursuing an accelerated master’s in public policy.
“I've been a resident advisor for three years, and my experiences providing student support have been helpful in being a peer academic advisor,” she said. “Knowing the different resources, programs, and activities happening on campus has allowed me to help students like myself in reaching their goals, whether by answering questions or just giving advice on what classes would be a good fit for them.”
Sometimes she has to have that tough conversation and remind students not pick classes just to get an “easy A.”
“I encourage people to take classes they can take something away from,” she said. “Students should consider taking a class in a subject they are either passionate about or would like to learn more about.”
Wilson has office hours in the Aquia Building, the Fairfax Campus home of the Schar School, where she helps students on their academic journeys. One advising appointment in particular stands out.
“I had a student who didn’t enjoy their major and was trying to figure out what was best for them. I talked to them about what they enjoyed doing and what they saw themself doing in the future,” she recalled. “We worked out a plan and the student changed majors to public administration. Advising appointments like these are really fulfilling.”
Ann Ludwick, the assistant dean for undergraduate academic affairs who oversees the advisors, notes that peer academic advisors exist to involve upper class Schar School students who have a desire to help others with their college experience.
“We appreciate the student voice—we need to tap into that area of expertise, their experiences navigating at Mason,” she said. “We appreciate embracing these roles because it improves our advising and informs the way we work with students and the programming we can provide students.”
As it turns out, the advisor benefited from advising.
“Dr. Ludwick has been the main reason that I have been able to balance my two majors, a minor, and do an accelerated master’s in public policy all at the same time,” Wilson said. “She has helped me tremendously by bringing opportunities available in the Schar School to my attention and helping me make a four-year plan for class registration. So when I saw the Schar School was looking for Peer Academic Advisors I was excited to apply.”
Students can schedule a meeting with academic and peer advisors at the Schar School through NavigateMason or come to the Aquia Building, Room 335, for walk-in appointments.
The Schar School advising team is happy to help students with course registration, academic advice, or anything else. Wilson encourages students to send an email or schedule an appointment.
“You never want to go into something being uncertain if there are people that can help address any concerns that you may have,” she said. “The peer academic advisors are students just like you and we're just here to help. It's what we love to do. It’s what I love to do.”