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Freshmen interested in the program should fill out the online application at tinyurl.com/engmentors.

University of Colorado sophomore Julia Carroll said being a freshman in the engineering school last year was overwhelming.

Besides her full course load, Carroll was learning to balance scholarship obligations, extracurricular activities and a social life. Even the little things were a challenge for the first few weeks, she said.

"When you're a freshman, you have so many questions," Carroll said. "Even learning how to print and use the library are hard at first."

But an engineering pilot program pairing freshmen with upperclassmen gave Carroll the support she needed to get through.

This year, the college is expanding the program and Carroll is returning as a mentor to show her appreciation for guidance she received her first year.

Lelei Finou-Starkey, first-year experience coordinator for the College of Engineering, said 30 mentors have been chosen, but the college is taking applications for freshmen protégés through Sept. 2.

"It's part of the push to build our community," Finou-Starkey said. "We're not just getting them ready to take calc, we want them to feel connected to the engineering community."

The program is modeled after a similar mentor initiative, Peer2Peer, started by the Leeds Business School in the fall of 2009.


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Sally Forester, who started the program, said they began with 20 mentors in 2009. This year, the program includes 55 upperclassmen mentoring 170 freshmen.

"We started Peer2Peer in order to provide students with community and support," Forester said. "The No. 1 reason students drop out of college is because they don't believe they can succeed, so we wanted to give them someone who is there for them and can tell them they can do this."

Finou-Starkey said she knows the importance of encouraging students, especially in a college as academically challenging as engineering.

"If the students aren't comfortable here, they won't do well," Finou-Starkey said. "We want to help them transition. We want them to stay."

Carroll said she's looking forward to helping engineering freshmen with everything from class recommendations to advising them on the social aspects of college life.

"This is a rigorous college, so that adds a little pressure," Carroll said. "But it's the whole freshman experience -- regardless of your major -- that's stressful."

Besides adding a friendly face to what can be a lonely freshman experience, Carroll said the commitment is very laid back, giving students the freedom to interact as much or as little as possible.

"Last year, it was required for us in the BOLD seminar class," Carroll said. "I was thinking 'Oh, great, this is just one more thing I have to do.' But once we got started, it was so easy and ended up being a really great part of my year."

Finou-Starkey is taking applications from engineering freshmen through the end of next week. Freshmen interested in the program should fill out the online application at tinyurl.com/engmentors. Mentors will be introduced to their protégés at a barbecue after Labor Day.