Peers for Development: A New Avenue for Peer Advisement

By Joe Pisicolo 

peersNot many would disagree that the concept of peer advising can provide unique benefits and effective results for students.  Like getting advice from a sibling or a friend, having someone similar in age and experience to use as a soundboard for your thoughts and concerns can be extremely useful.  A supplement to traditional mentors, peer advisors are relatable and can adeptly empathize with your situation – perhaps because they were in a similar one not too long ago.

If you’re a college student with a keen eye, you may have noticed a peer advising program set up in your college’s career or student services office. Programs like these are a great way to encourage students to be informative and helpful with one another, providing guidance on what courses to take and how to best take advantage of the college’s various resources. Employers, too, are implementing programs that allow employees at similar levels to help each other assimilate into office culture and become aware of key organization success factors.

While peer advisement is widely considered useful, its programs are typically confined to its institutions.

What I mean by that is simply this: peer advising programs at ABC University offer guidance solely to students at ABC University and much of this guidance is specific to policies and procedures unique to ABC University. The same concept holds true for programs coordinated by employers.  This isn’t to say that these programs have the wrong idea – it obviously would not make sense for them to arrange differently.  But is there another way to go about peer advising? Do one-on-one peer advising programs need to be confined by educational and professional institutions?

I started working on Peers for Development early this year after considering the above questions. The concept of this Staten Island-based organization is simple: we want to promote cross-institutional peer advisement – from college students to high school students, and from young professionals to those still in school. By providing an avenue for young adults to network and received tailored guidance from peers with similar interests and experiences, we feel we can really help make a positive difference in the personal and professional lives of those we advise.
After pitching the concept to numerous friends and acquaintances, I’ve managed to build a core team of about six highly-successful college students whose values and passions are aligned with the empathetic mission of our organization. Furthermore, close to thirty people have committed to volunteering some of their free time as Peer Advisors – and the network is growing quickly. Currently, our team is working on our first major initiative: a summer advisory program for Monsignor Farrell High School students seeking guidance in the college application and decision-making process.
As a reader of the Inbetween blog – you likely are interested in receiving advisement or providing it to others. In either case, you are the type of person who may be interested in learning more about Peers for Developmentand how you can become involved. If that is the case, please feel free to shoot us an email at Peers.for.Development@gmail.com. We’d be super excited to get you up to speed on some of the cool projects we have planned for the future!
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