The Peer Advising Leaders or PALs represents a network of students trained to help first-year students navigate Orientation and fall semester to ensure a smooth transition to campus life and achieve academic success.
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Director, Peer Advising Leaders
Peer Advising Leaders
I love asking questions. From the ever-present “why?” when I was a toddler to the detailed list of questions I brought along on college tours, I have always enjoyed talking to others about their experiences. I soak up as much information as I can—it makes my journey much smoother in the end.
That being said, I really love answering questions too. I’m definitely that kid that gets excited to fill out forms! I’ll go on for hours if the people around me are interested in what I have to say.
And herein lies the answer to why I applied to be a PAL: to answer questions from first-years, and to ask them a few of my own.
As a PAL, I’ll be acting as a guide, but I’ll also be learning from new students, each of who will have a totally different experience at Oberlin than I’ve had! It’s amazing that we all get to come together and learn about the variety of ways to “be” at Oberlin. I’m excited to get to be a part of the magical first semester of college for my 15 team members, through both the highs and the lows. We’ll run things by each other and help one another determine the best paths to take. Of course, those paths will change. College is all about trying a million things! As a PAL, I want to help first-years find the opportunities and activities that make their hearts happy!
You’ll come to find quickly that Oberlin is a place where your professors really see you and care about you. But in the beginning, it can be difficult to know whether all the students do too. The older students I met during my first semester hold a special place in my heart. When Oberlin felt strange and foreign, and I recognized few faces, they would wave to me and ask how my day was going. They noticed me – they cared!
I hope the PAL program shows you that students at Oberlin really do care about each other. Almost everyone I know at Oberlin could have been a PAL. There are people looking out for you all over campus, in your classes and in student organizations, on teams and in ensembles. But the PAL program offers structured support from the get-go, a type of support that you won’t have to seek out during your busy first weeks. You’ll be surrounded by student leaders who’ve gone through lots of ups and downs – they’ll offer some great advice. And it’ll be comforting to know that an older student has your back from the very beginning!
So here’s a question I’m happy to answer: Why should you be a part of the inaugural year of the PAL program? You’ll play a major role in building community between students at Oberlin. This culture of care will help you – you’ll make friends – and it will help future students. We’ll create a network of students in different class years that check in with each other. In a couple of years, you’ll be in my position (believe me, time flies), and you won’t be asking as many questions – you’ll be answering them.
For now, all you have to do to help our campus build a new system of support for first-years is get involved in this program as a mentee. You’ll bring your unique knowledge and quirks and fears and dreams to meetings – and so will your PAL and the other fourteen students in your group. The next four years of your life are going to be wild and exciting – they’ll contain every emotion you can imagine. Along with the other PALs, I’m here to help those years get off to a good start. I can’t wait to meet you in August and answer every question you can think of!
—Kira Findling, PAL member