By Alexandra Schmidt
Who are the Psychology Student mentors?
Student mentors are both undergraduate and postgraduate students, who have been trained to provide information and support to other students in the School of Psychology.
We can offer information and support on a range of academic issues, help you find your way around campus, develop study skills and point you towards events or online resources available to support you. For example, we can help with essay structuring, preparation of lab reports, revision tips and planning, time management or presentation skills. The student mentor team includes an international student, a mature student and 1 PhD student, so we hope between us to be able to cover anything that comes up for you.
What makes you different from an Academic Advisor?
We are different from academic advisors as we are all students ourselves and have gone through similar experiences and worries. We are familiar with the assignments you’re working on and are able to provide tips and advice based on very recent experiences of assignment and revision stress.
What made you want to become a student mentor?
I became a student mentor as I have a genuine interest in helping people. This goes for people who might need more help or have come across difficult times, but equally for someone who is already doing well but would like to improve on their performance.
I remember in my first year especially, there were many times I would have liked to speak to someone about uncertainties regarding assignments, when I felt things weren’t progressing and were starting to feel like they were getting on top of me.
What’s the best piece of advice you can give as a student mentor?
When you are stuck or overwhelmed, it’s easy to think that everyone else is coping much better and therefore you might not speak to anyone about your worries or you may not feel like you can ask for help. But most often, that’s not the case and other people are feeling a similar way. Therefore, try and use opportunities to speak to friends and peers, organise study groups, speak to your tutors or come and see the student mentors! Mentors are good listeners and when you come and see us, all our time is focused on you and what you have come to talk to us about.
Thinking back to your first year, is there anything you’d like to pass on to those who are about to begin their Psychology degree?
My fellow mentors have said that they would have liked to have known how to make the most of assignment feedback.
My advice is to take time to read and understand what your marker has written and if you need further clarity, book some time within a markers’ office hours and ask your marker for more information on what they have written.
Feedback is so important as it does not only tell you where you can improve but also what went well. This will really help focus your efforts when preparing your next assignment.
For me personally, looking back I would have liked to have told myself to get to know as many fellow students as possible.
This is one of the greatest insights that I’ve come out of the course with. I met so many interesting people in my 3rd year who I have really enjoyed spending time with on and off-campus. I wish I had got to know them earlier.
My advice also goes to students in other year groups too, for example, as a second-year student choosing modules and supervisors for third year, it can be really interesting and helpful to speak to someone who has gone through the modules you’re considering. Similarly, this applies to your wider development, for example, when you’re trying to decide on whether to take a year out on either placement or study abroad. Or if you want to apply for the Junior Research Associate (JRA) scheme and want to talk through the application process with someone who’s already completed it. You’ll get first hand (informal) info on what it was like which will put you in a better position to make the right choices.
Student mentors have either done these things or can put you in touch with someone who has.
Where to find us
During term time, we run weekly drop-in sessions where you can come and have a chat with us with a cup of tea and biscuits.
Please email us on firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions or if you wish to arrange a 1-to-1 meeting.
Ali Schmidt was an undergrad student mentor during the final year of her BSc in Psychology with Clinical Approaches at Sussex, and she is currently the PhD student mentor.