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The Inside Track

USC Dornsife students take advantage of Inside Track, which pairs mentors with new students for one year. Mentors help freshman become acclimated and get them involved in campus groups and programs.

USC Dornsife political science major Adrienne Liu (left), and student Shinnie Tu, who also participates in Inside Track. Photo by Vigor Lam.
USC Dornsife political science major Adrienne Liu (left), and student Shinnie Tu, who also participates in Inside Track. Photo by Vigor Lam.

How do I find my way around campus? What are my on-campus dining options? How can I handle all this schoolwork and still have a social life? What’s going on around campus? How can I get involved at USC?

Every semester, new students begin classes at USC and, frequently, they have more questions than answers.

That’s where Inside Track comes in. The program assigns incoming students to student mentors, and it’s not too late for spring freshmen and transfer students to sign up.

Christina Mireles, program manager of Campus Activities, said the organization pairs students with mentors through a leadership styles assessment based on career goals, sports interests, similarities in majors and other factors.

Following the assessment, mentors and mentees are matched and, through the program, have three formal meetings each semester. They are also encouraged to connect on their own as frequently as needed via Skype, phone or in person.

Although the Spring semester program kicked off in January, the group accepts applications on a rolling basis.

Adrienne Liu, a political science major at USC Dornsife, joined Inside Track in the Fall to serve as a mentor for an incoming freshman.

Liu said being a mentor means sharing her knowledge of opportunities and experiences with her mentee.

“Inside Track is a really great and valuable program that helps connect new incoming students to current students who are typically on-campus leaders,” Liu said. “For example, I would talk to my mentee about the different leadership and study abroad programs I thought she might find enjoyable.”

James Freymuth, a double major in philosophy, politics and law at USC Dornsife and in public administration at the USC Price School of Public Policy, met with his mentees at the beginning of the semester to see what organizations piqued their interest. He then connected them with students in those organizations. He also helped them plan their schedules and gave them advice on where to study on campus as well as help dealing with roommates.

Mireles believes the program creates a sense of leadership for USC students.

“The program helps open up the conversation that we are all leaders,” she said.

Inside Track pairs mentors with new students for one year. However, Mireles has found that many of the relationships last much longer.

Liu agreed. “I still keep in touch with my mentee, and it evolved into a great friendship,” she said. “In addition to gaining a friend, I’ve also learned valuable interpersonal skills such as effective communication and how to mentor people through both words and actions.

“My favorite part about being involved with Inside Track is being able to help shape the beginnings of the mentee’s time at USC,” she added. “And hopefully being part of a memorable first semester at USC.”

Freymuth likes the formalized approach that Inside Track provides new students.

“Having someone to bounce ideas off of and getting that extra push to join activities that are going on is one of my favorite parts about this organization,” he said. “Not all freshmen are confident enough to try new things, so it’s important to have a mentor map out what their freshman year can look like.”

For more information on how to sign up to be an Inside Track mentor or mentee, visit sait.usc.edu/ca/usclead/programs_inside.html