SMART Program

SMART Program

The Students of Color Mentoring, Aiding, Retaining, and Teaching (SMART) Program is a peer mentoring program offered by the Office of Residence Life. It is designed to help first-year residential students—especially those from marginalized populations—transition successfully to BGSU and to assist with retaining them into their second year and beyond. Participation in SMART is free and open to everyone.

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Signing up for SMART is an online process and takes less than five minutes to complete!

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General Information

  • Participation in SMART is free
  • Students who participate in SMART are retained for their second year at a higher rate than those who do not
  • The time commitment varies weekly. Typically, it is about one hour. Weeks with All-SMART meetings, programs and/or events require additional time (about three hours).

To achieve these goals, SMART pairs first-year students (Mentees) with upper-class residential students who will provide weekly support and guidance. Additionally, SMART requires Mentees to attend a monthly All-SMART meeting that provide information to assist with their success at BGSU. Also, SMART hosts activities and events for students enrichment from one of these four core components:

  • Social Engagement
  • Cultural Exploration
  • Academic Support and Encouragement
  • Leadership Enhancement


Academics | SMART connects mentees to resources in and out of their residence hall

Safety and Security | SMART covers topics that raise awareness and helps mentees make wiser choices about safety

Inclusion | SMART provides a family-type environment for mentees; “Once in SMART, always in SMART”

Engagement | SMART gives opportunities to get involved with a variety of groups around campus

Personal Growth | SMART helps mentees become more confident in their skills and their belonging at BGSU

Frequently Asked Questions

The program was established in 1999 as the Residence Life Minority Peer Mentoring Program by James T. Jackson, Sr. (JJ). At that time, multicultural students were only about 10% of the BGSU undergraduate population (compared to about 25% now). The program sought to provide social, cultural, and academic support to first year students of color living in the residence halls, helping them to be effective students at BGSU and helping to improve their retention and graduation rates. Since that time, the program has made a huge difference in the lives of many, many students and strives to make the current decade as impactful as the first.

No. Although the vast majority of our Staff and Mentees are People of Color (African American students comprise the largest percentage of our Mentees and Staff), the SMART Program is open to ALL first-year students who live in the residence halls. SMART has ALWAYS been welcoming to anyone who wishes to participate.

No. Everything we do is free. For example, when we go bowling, we pay for your transportation, your entry into the bowling alley, your shoes and even a slice of pizza and a soda.

The number varies from year to year. We guarantee a mentor to the first 150 people who sign up. After that, you will be considered part of SMART and will be able to attend all of our programs and events, but you will be on a waiting list to have a mentor.

No. Although some of our Staff may offer to provide tutoring in their major subjects, SMART is not a tutoring program. But we will provide you with information about where you can get tutoring and other academic assistance.

You are! SMART Mentees are first year students who live in one of the Residence Halls at BGSU. They are responsible for developing a solid academic and social foundation in the first year at BGSU from which their college experience will grow. Mentees should be open to learning, reaching out, building relationships, developing skills, change, and success. Mentees should be positive and excited about their new experiences.

At the end of your year as a mentee, you can apply for the SMART Gift for a Lifetime Book Award, a small book scholarship for your second year. Only two awards are available, and your investment in SMART (attendance, recommendation from your mentor, etc.) is taken into account.

The SMART Staff consists of one full-time staff member (Coordinator for Diversity and Retention Initiatives); The Graduate SMART Coordinator; undergraduate student Team Leaders who assist with administration, program planning, and mentoring; and undergraduate student Mentors who provide support, resources, and guidance for SMART Mentees. Team Leaders must have previously served as Mentors. Most SMART Mentors were Mentees in the program.


Email us at, or contact Ana Brown, Coordinator for Diversity and Retention Initiatives at 470 Math Science Building, 419/372-9428.