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Welcome to the Mentor Learning Center

4 Year pathway: winter intersession of freshman year

Here is a mentor to-do checklist for the winter of freshman year. Click here to download and print out your checklist

✔ Connect with your mentee, and see them in person if possible.  

    (     ) One mentee said that she was surprised and happy when her mentor asked if she wanted to get coffee when she was home. She said, “When I saw her, I thought, yeah, that’s my mentor.” 

✔ Find your mentee’s academic calendar (usually on their college website), and bookmark it or print it out. 

(      ) Key dates include the beginning and end date of their vacation, and the drop/add deadlines for the new semester. Once you know the key dates, you can communicate, encourage, and remind your mentee around these dates.   

✔ Help your mentee reflect on their first semester

(       ) Ask your mentee about how their first semester went generally, and find out how their grades were more specifically. Celebrate their success, encourage them, and if necessary, help them find ways to recover from academic setbacks.  

✔ Use the PSP goal-setting project to work with your mentee to make personal, academic, or financial goals for the coming semester. 

✔ Ask your mentee about their plans for the coming semester. 

(       ) Many students don’t go back after their freshman semester. If your mentee is on the fence, you can help them problem solve and find ways to continue.   

✔ Communicate with iMentor program staff. 

    (      ) Let your program manager know how you and your mentee are doing. What were the high and low points of the fall semester? 


Starter discussion questions for winter of freshman year 

  • What are you planning to do over break? 

  • Do you want to meet up to ________ ? 

  • How does it feel to be home? What’s the best part? Is there anything that feels tough about being home?

  • How do you feel about your first semester? 

  • Can you send me your grades for this semester? Sometimes the highest grades aren’t the ones that show the most improvement or hardest work, so which class were you proudest of? Is there anything that you want to try next semester? 

  • What’s the best thing you ate over the holidays? Did you get or give any presents you really liked?   

  • How are you feeling about going back for next semester? 

  • Have you registered for classes yet? What classes are you taking?  

  • Did you meet with an advisor to register?  

  • When do classes start up again? Do you have a winter mini-semester? 

  • Let’s talk about goals: 

    • how did you do on the goals for the last quarter?

    • What should we focus on working on for the next several months?

    • Reflect on goals/outcomes: Why do you think that happened? What can we learn?


Key takeaways/Persistence Milestones: 

  • The end of the semester; students who went away to college may be coming home for the first extended visit, which can be both joyous/comforting, or unsettling if students feel more distant from their family and community.  

  • Students will get their grades back. Over the holidays, students will have access to their first-semester grades. The likelihood of college completion diminishes as GPA declines, and students who are in the top 40 percent of GPAs are likely to complete a college degree. (Adelman, 1999, 2006; Hu & St. John, 2001; Kahn & Nauta, 2001; Tinto, 1975; Titus, 2004).  However, students who start with low GPAs can be supported to persist. Students may be excited about their grades, or devastated, or somewhere in the middle. By providing encouragement and a safe space to talk about their grades, you can help students persist and overcome academic struggles.  

  • Students will need to register - and return to campus - for the spring semester. It’s natural that some students will feel discouraged from going back for second semester, but students who remain continuously enrolled in college, even with a part time status are 43 percent more likely to complete a college degree when compared to students who stop-out for more than one semester. (Adelman, 1999, 2006). 

  • Some colleges have intersession, or a short winter semester. If students are taking winter classes, see the spring guide for additional persistence milestones and resources. Short semesters tend to be intensive and accelerated, so students may especially need more intensive support.