The 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.

Become a SMART Mentee

We are looking for first-year students to join our SMART program. Sign-up, to become a SMART Mentee and enjoy all the benefits of this FREE program explained below. Signing up to be a SMART Mentee is an online process and takes less than five minutes to complete!

  • Participation in SMART is 100% free.

  • 1 - 3 hours per week commitment, depending on All-SMART meetings, special programs and events.

  • SMART Mentees are more likely to come back to BGSU their second year, compared to non-members of SMART.


James Kearney

Responsible for developing and implementing multicultural, social justice, and retention programs, initiatives, and trainings for Residence Life staff. The Coordinator also oversees the Resident Success Mentor Program, SMART Program and large-scale diversity programs across the department.

Three female students smiling at the camera

About the Program

As a SMART Mentee, during your first year at BGSU you will focus on building skills to ensure a successful college experience. Once you become a member, you will have additional opportunities to get involved through our SMART job opportunities, such as  SMART Mentors.

The SMART program target the following topics:

  • 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
  • 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

First-year SMART Mentees are paired with upper-class residential students who will provide weekly support and guidance. Additionally, SMART Mentees have the opportunity to attend monthly All-SMART meetings that provide information to assist with your success at BGSU. The SMART Program also hosts activities and events for member enrichment from one of these four core components:

  • Social Engagement
  • Cultural Exploration
  • Academic Support and Encouragement
  • Leadership Enhancement       
Two male students smiling at the camera

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, entry into the bowling alley, 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 Initiatives); The Graduate SMART Coordinator; and undergraduate student Mentors who provide support, resources, and guidance for SMART Mentees. Most SMART Mentors were Mentees in the program.

Updated: 06/07/2023 01:38PM