As a peer adviser, I am one in a group of eight upperclassmen who offer academic and personal advising with the advantage of being able to provide a first-hand perspective on the issues. This program was created in response to student demand and is currently in its pilot year. I’m not going to talk about peer advising here but rather I’m going to talk about the “peer-to-peer” aspect of it. The sentiment of being “in it together,” which the concept of peer-to-peer relies upon, is something we’ve been trying to extend to student life this semester, and is a principle that every student should try to use in their daily lives.
As we get closer and closer to the giant rain cloud that is finals, a time when we trade in our jeans for sweatpants, our beds for Butler, and real meals for food bars, I can’t help but feel grateful for the sense of camaraderie that also comes along with these upcoming weeks. We are all tired and achy from being strapped to a desk for hours, but we are not alone. Most of Columbia’s student body is enduring this as well, and enduring obstacles together as peers somehow makes the whole experience that much easier.
Student support is especially important during these so-called “darkest of times,” and it is during such times that I have collected some of my favorite Columbia memories. An evening that was supposed to be dedicated to CC cramming turned into a passionate group discussion on which Hogwarts house we would want to be in, although one of us was decidedly a Muggle. A lost wallet that led to me and a new friend retracing our steps through Morningside ended with the discovery of Deluxe’s most delicious milkshake (peanut butter and banana, FYI). A 10-minute study break turned into a ’90s music dance party in the lounge, thanks to a floormate’s passing reference to TLC.
These are the types of informal support networks we tap into that only our peers can provide. And these are the moments that remind me of the importance of peer-to-peer help. Without the kind words or silly gestures of my peers, I would surely not have been able to get through my exams, or Columbia in general, with the same level of sanity.
My gratitude for this support system is why I wanted to become a peer adviser. My hope for our program is that it goes beyond merely informing students on academic details and into successfully perpetuating this feeling of togetherness. By acting as a formal network of peers, we strive to be a unique resource that benefits our campus through structured peer guidance.
The amount of peer-to-peer help can often be lacking, as seen in how frequently we use the excuse of “too much work” (that sometimes masks for “don’t feel like it”). This is not to say that we should drop what we’re doing every time there’s a proposal to go to the Heights, but it is to say that at times we neglect the importance of supporting our peers too quickly in favor of our own obligations.
So, in these next couple weeks when we are sure to notice the telltale signs of a looming finals week—the days getting shorter, libraries getting more cramped, and newsfeeds getting inundated with exam-related woes—I hope that we will remember that this is also one of the best times to lean on our peers and support each other, whether you’re a Gryffindor or a Slytherin, or even a Muggle.
The author is a Columbia College senior majoring in economics. She is a peer adviser at the Center for Student Advising.
To respond to this op-ed, or to submit an op-ed, contact email@example.com.