Residential Life Hub in the dorms. (Photo courtesy of Fabio Gutierrez)

Peer Academic Leaders

Peer Academic Leaders, also known as P.A.L.s, are a key component to the transition from high school to college living for many first-generation students.

Every year new students, mostly first-generation college attendees, show up to CSU Stanislaus unaware of what is in store for them. Some may be far from their family and friends, and they may feel isolated and lost as to how to do anything on campus. There are many challenges that they face, such as academics and social life. P.A.L.s are here to help overcome these challenges and obstacles.

The Impact of P.A.L.s 

Students in the dorms are all assigned P.A.L.s. Over the course of the semester you establish a relationship with them, and for many, these relationships are some of the first interactions they will have with CSU Stanislaus. They help academically and personally. The P.A.L.s can help set up their assigned students with tutors in every subject, help with their registration, help locate resources or rooms on campus, and even help them get through a personal matter.

“The role of a P.A.L. is to be social with the students, so being able to be a friend, a resource, a leader, and a role model to them,'' says Eduardo Sanchez, a current P.A.L. on campus.

Sanchez shared a personal story about how his P.AL. had a positive impact on his transition from his hometown of Los Angeles . He went on to speak about how their impactful relationship is what led him to become a P.A.L. himself. As he was speaking about his story, you could sense that he truly does care about the students he helps. That is what P.AL.s are all about. 

These students help shape the experiences of those around them. They are great role models to look up to and to be led by. Like Sanchez stated, they play many roles and are constantly on the clock to make other students' lives on campus much easier. They are the unsung heroes of the students living in the dorms.

Student Feedback

Not all schools across the nation have Peer Academic Leaders according to Sanchez. Places such as San Jose State do not have these types of people to help their new students.

“Since I am the first one to attend college, it was hard to figure everything out alone. Overtime I have gotten to understand things, but I wish I had someone to show me the way around this place…” stated Mikayla Ruesga (Communication Studies), attendee at San Jose State.

Ruesga, just like many students across the nation, have struggled to make the big change of attending a college and seeking  help to make their experience easier. 

“My P.A.L.s have made it way less stressful to come here. I have developed a great relationship with my P.A.L. which makes it super easy to talk to her when I need help,” said Brenda Urban (Liberal Studies), a current resident in the dorms.

These students' reflections greatly help when evaluating the effectiveness of the P.A.L.s. When students are assisted by the right people, they have an overall better college experience.

Those who want to find out more about P.A.L.s can search them up on the CSU Stanislaus website.

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