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Northeastern to cut hand-holding freshmen support program
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Most new students ‘completely ignored’ peer guidance resource: employee

Northeastern University is shutting down its Student Support Initiative after the freshman peer guidance and resource program drew little interest.

The Massachusetts institution began the program just two years ago to connect new students with peer mentors, or Student Success Guides, to provide help finding academic resources, extracurricular activities, mental health support, and more, according to the program’s webpage.

A promotional video encourages new students to use the program’s app to “problem solve with your SSG,” build a profile to “express yourself,” and connect with other students on campus.

The app also allows students to track their goals and outline the steps they should take to achieve their desired future, according to the video.

However, the university just announced plans to end the program in May, The Huntingdon News reports. About 20 full-time staff and more than 100 student workers will be laid off as a result, according to the independent student newspaper.

Jeta Perjuci, a student employee of the program, described her work as a “middleman” who connects new students to mental health services and other resources.

Once the program ends, students may struggle to find services, she told The News.

But it appears students already are finding them on their own.

According to the university’s statement, “The services offered by SSI either already exist across Northeastern, or will be absorbed within existing student-serving areas where students can successfully utilize them.”

Perjuci and others also admitted student participation in the program was low.

“As an SSG, I oversee a big group of students through MentorHub, and I don’t receive responses too often even though I check in with them weekly,” she said. “So my best theory is that SSI management noticed this and thought that it might not be necessary to have a whole department to help students navigate resources.”

Another SSG who spoke to The News on condition of anonymity said most new students “completely ignored their SSGs” and felt “the resource was too impersonal,” according to the report.

“[Ending the program] made sense to me, because it hadn’t seemed like the most effective way to reach students,” the third-year student said. “All we had been talking about all semester long, all year long, was low engagement.”

Long ago, society recognized young adults should start navigating life for themselves by this age, figuring out problems on their own and seeking help when needed. These things help build responsibility and character.

Of course, higher education institutions should provide support when needed. But college students are no longer children, they don’t need their hands to be held, and it looks like Northeastern figured that out.

MORE: Some colleges eliminate grading, cite students’ poor mental health, lack of preparation

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About the Author
Micaiah Bilger is an assistant editor at The College Fix.