Peer Advising Attracts Nearly 500

Prefect program previously got 140 to 150 applicants; $1,000 is ‘so much more appealing’

The Advising Programs Office (APO) received over 480 applications for next year’s 180 newly created peer advising fellow positions, Associate Dean of Advising Programs Monique Rinere was “thrilled” to announce in an e-mail yesterday.

“That’s a lot of applications,” said APO associate Brooks B. Lambert-Sluder ’05. “It’s pretty incredible.”

In comparison, the number of applicants for the Prefect Program “varies from 140 to 150,” according to Prefect Yard Coordinator Maria M. Reyes-Bonar ’06.

Rinere officially announced last Tuesday that the prefect program would be incorporated into a new peer advising fellow program, created by her office and its Student Advisory Board (SAB).

Under the new program, fellows will not only fill the entryway community-building function that prefects do, but will also serve as informal academic advisors to a group of 10 freshmen.

Peer advisers will be expected to meet their advisee group weekly and to offer extracurricular and college-life advice.

Some advising fellow applicants said that when forced to choose between several extracurricular activities, the prefect program had been the first to be relinquished. But they said the new program’s $1,000 stipend persuaded them to apply.

“I looked into the prefect process,” said Owais Siddiqui ’06. “But I found that in addition to extracurriculars...I would not have the time.”

“Now that it’s paid, it seems so much more appealing,” Siddiqui said. “I think it makes a lot more qualified people want to apply.”

Roland C. Nadler ’09, who applied to be a peer advising fellow, said that applicants who applied only for the money would be weeded out by the application process.

The preliminary application, aside from requesting standard academic, extracurricular and contact information, included two short answer questions: what piece of advice the candidate wished he or she had been given as a freshman and a letter of introduction to a hypothetical freshman advisee.

“It really did make me have to sit down and think, ‘do I have a really good reason to do this?’” Nadler said.

Not all applicants were influenced by the monetary incentive. Some applicants had already been planning on applying to the prefect program.

“I had been planning on being a prefect all along,” said Emily W. Cunningham ’09. The stipend is “a nice perk but that’s not why I’m doing it.”

Still other applicants hypothesized that the stipend was a compensation for the extra commitment that the new position entails.

Students will be expected to devote around 40 hours a semester to the role, according to the APO website.

“For some, the peer advising fellow program might not sound as attractive as the prefect program,” Nadler said. “It may seem a little more formal and demanding.”

The APO will choose about 300 applicants to be interviewed next week by members of the SAB and College administrators. “Ultimate selection will be made by groups of people, including the SAB members and its guests,” Rinere wrote in an e-mail.

—Staff writer Nina L. Vizcarrondo can be reached at nvizcarr@fas.harvard.edu.