Oakes Mentoring Program


We invite you to learn more about the Oakes College Mentoring Program, which pairs Oakes students in their first quarter of college with trained peer mentors to support their academic success and adjustment. Here you can find information about how to become a mentor, how to sign up as a mentee to receive a mentor, and what former mentees have said about how the program has helped them succeed. We are grateful to have this program at Oakes College, and proud of the work that our dedicated mentors have done to support our first-year students.

Students on the Oakes Bridge - photo taken before the COVID-19 pandemic

How do I request an Oakes mentor?

We invite you to become a part of the Oakes College Mentoring Program. Our mentors are trained Oakes College students who are here to provide you with support, resources and guidance as you adjust to college.

Your mentor will introduce you to the campus resources available to you, help counsel you through any academic performance issues, share their own experiences about their academic successes and difficulties, help you plan your courses at UCSC,and guide you through the college adjustment process. Click here for the application to become a mentee.

What our Mentees say:

"Oakes Mentoring Program was very helpful to me in many ways. it helped me to adapt to my new life here at college. My mentor was very useful since he instructed me and gave me resources to have a more pleasant first quarter at UCSC. I strongly believe this program should be available for all Oakes first-Year students next yearbecause it is a very useful resource that helps new students in the transition to their new life as adults in college..." -Oakes College first year student

  “The Oakes Mentoring Program was a great resource for me that helped me learn about the different opportunities on campus available to me. My mentor…answered a lot of my questions about making the transition from high school to college. Especially when living away from home for the first time, she gave me many words of wisdom that I look to.” -Oakes College first year student

  "The Oakes Mentoring Program was very useful and a way to keep students on track with classes. It is almost like having an older brother who keeps you on track with school. It allows students to have an opportunity to meet more people who have more experience in college.”—Andres Arias, Oakes College first-year student

  “The Oakes Mentoring Program was very helpful especially for me because since I have never been away from my family. My mentor helped me a lot with that situation. My mentor is a very nice person and advises me about things to do on campus and told me about the resources I had. I think that the program should be instituted for all Oakes first-year students next year. It would help them adjust better to the campus life and know about the different resources on campus available to them.” –Oakes College first year student

A students teaching another student- photo taken before the COVID-19 pandemic

How do I become a mentor?

In the Oakes Core Mentoring Service-Learning Practicum, we support one another in the process of mentoring the new Oakes Core students. You will gain the skills you need to become academic peer counselors for Oakes College first-year students in order to provide them with support, resources, and guidance as they adjust to college.

Your responsibilities outside of class as a mentor will range from introducing the students to the campus resources available to them, counseling the students through their academic performance issues, providing support to the students, sharing your own experience about your own academic successes and difficulties, and providing guidance on the college adjustment process.

Mentors are expected to immediately refer students experiencing major emotional or personal issues to CAPS and Oakes Student Life staff.

Click here for an application to become a mentor.

Important qualities of a successful mentor

Mentors must have the time in their lives and in their schedules to accommodate mentoring work, with regular out-of-class time checking in and meeting with mentees in the fall. This is not just a two-unit class to fill your schedule, but a commitment to work your hardest to spend several months helping other Oakes students, some of whom may be very challenging or facing great obstacles.

It is critically important to be aware of your potential role as a person who is dedicated to helping first-year students who may be struggling with academic, emotional, adjustment, and personal issues next fall. You will be a trusted confidant and guide for your mentees, and it is important to take that commitment and trust very seriously as part of the process of training to be a mentor. In addition, you need to be someone who can be an academic and personal role model for other students – this means you are a mature, helpful, responsible individual who is doing well in your classes and is able to balance your academics and extracurricular commitments. If you are willing to commit to the requirements and expectations of a mentor, please fill out the mentor application.

Satisfaction of General Education requirement

As an Oakes mentor, you will receive two credits for our class as well as one GE designation (PR-S).

This course is part of the Oakes Service Learning and Community Justice program and can be counted as part of the CARA Certificate Program which you can learn more about here.

 Knisely photo


Lindsay Knisely has been teaching for Oakes College since 2004. She created the Oakes College Mentoring Workshop in response to our students' need for more academic support and peer connection as they adjust to their first quarter of college, and has been overjoyed to witness the structured guidance provided by the student mentors to each incoming class of Oakes first-years. Lindsay also teaches the Oakes Core Course, Oakes Academic Success, and a Writing 2 course called "Youth Identity in a Networked Culture," which investigates the ways that young people's relationships with themselves and others have been affected by their digital connectivity. Lindsay has an MFA in Poetry from the University of Oregon, and a degree in Creative Writing from Oberlin College. She lives in Santa Cruz with her​ wondrous family. Contact her at <lknisely@ucsc.edu>.