The Peer Advising Leaders (PAL) program aims to support every incoming student in building community and preparing to make the most of their first-year experience, both inside and outside the classroom. New students join their cohorts even before they get to campus, in order to grow the roots that will allow them to succeed during their first semester and beyond.
Peer Advising Leaders (PALs) are upper-class students who are trained to support incoming Arts and Sciences and Double Degree students as they navigate the transition to Oberlin life and learning. Each PAL leads a cohort of 15 new students who also share a class through the First-Year Seminar program (FYSP). In this way, each cohort shares academic, co-curricular, and social experiences throughout their first semester, forming bonds that will last through the rest of their time at Oberlin and beyond.
The PALs are there to help every step of the way. During New Student Orientation and the fall semester, PALs facilitate sessions that introduce students to the Oberlin community, explain important campus policies like the Honor Code, prepare students for course registration and appointments with their academic advisor, build effective communication and organizational skills, and so much more.
Below is a general outline of PAL programming for the 2021–22 academic year:
New Student Orientation
During the week of September 20, the PAL experience will begin with a series of remote meetings and workshops. During this time, incoming students will have a chance to establish relationships with their peers, articulate their goals and aspirations for their first semester, prepare to meet with their advisors and to register for classes, and plan for their arrival to campus.
PAL meetings will continue once students have arrived in Oberlin. During this in-person portion of the Orientation experience, students will build on connections initiated during their remote cohort sessions. Together, cohorts will develop organizational strategies for academic success, discuss how to create inclusive and equitable communities, get their bearings on campus, and venture into Cleveland for a day of fun and exploration.
The PAL cohort experience continues into the semester through the cocurricular LEAD 050 course. As students settle into their first semester at Oberlin, PALs will convene regular meetings to help students understand concepts like academic integrity, prepare to participate in their first winter term, connect with important campus resources inside and outside the classroom, and plan for future semesters.
Throughout New Student Orientation and the fall semester, PALs help new students transition to Oberlin life and learning. During all PAL sessions, as well as in opportunities for students to gather socially, the ethos of “Obies helping Obies” remains at the program’s core. This is why we are proud to say that, at Oberlin, every new student has a PAL!
The PAL program is made possible through a collaborative effort involving the Academic Advising Resource Center, the College of Arts and Sciences, and the Division of Student Life.
Nathan Carpenter '20
Director, PAL and SOAR Programs
PAL and the First-Year Seminar Program (FYSP)
The PAL Program is closely aligned with the First-Year Seminar Program (FYSP), helping first-year students develop skills in critical and creative thinking, discussion, and writing, while becoming acquainted with resources available for learning at Oberlin.