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Peer Mentors Help Undecided Students Explore Majors

The third annual Interdisciplinary Studies Week (ISW), hosted by the Senate of College Councils and Undergraduate Studies Council, matched 63 students in the School of Undergraduate Studies (UGS) across 37 majors and 10 undergraduate colleges and schools with a mentor enrolled in a major they’re interested in pursuing. Undecided students signed up for a major they wanted to explore and the Senate of College Council’s academic enrichment committee paired those students with a suitable mentor. Students then went to class with their mentor to see what the major was all about. This unique event gave undeclared students the chance to try out a major before officially applying to transfer.

Michael Pontikes, an electrical engineering mentor and president of Undergraduate Studies Council, shadowed George Zhang during 2017’s ISW. After getting into electrical engineering, this year Michael mentored Tony Lu, a first-year UGS student.

“I think that it’s a great opportunity for UGS students to really learn about their intended majors,” Pontikes said. “I got to show Tony what we really do in electrical engineering by taking him to my classes and talking with him about the major in general. I also gave him some tips on succeeding in engineering that I wish I knew when I was in his shoes!”

“Interdisciplinary Studies Week helped me get a better understanding of which type of engineering I wanted to get into,” said Tony Lu, the student who shadowed Mickael Pontikes. “It has been a super cool experience and I now know more about how to handle the hard classes. I especially enjoyed the awkward moment when I almost had to take a pop quiz about circuits.”

Photos by Trent Lesikar

a selection of Interdisciplinary Studies Week participants