ULink is an academic peer advising program run through U.Va.'s Student Council. ULink aims to match first years with upperclassmen peer advisors to discuss class and major choices, academic resources, and students' academic paths at the University. Students meet with their academic advisor throughout their first year, especially at important junctures such as class selection.
For organizations and student groups that already have advising programs, ULink may serve as an optional supplement, or complement, for the student. The program does not replace these specialized advising programs and will operate with and develop partnerships with such programs.
Although this organization has members who are University of Virginia students and may have University employees associated or engaged in its activities and affairs, the organization is not a part of or an agency of the University. It is a separate and independent organization, which is responsible for and manages its own activities and affairs. The University does not direct, supervise or control the organization and is not responsible for the organization’s contracts, acts or omissions.
History of ULink
ULink, originally called, "UPal," was started by Student Council's Academic Affairs Committee in the Fall 2013 semester. After selecting the first Co-Chairs (third year Daniel Rosenfeld and first year Jason Carrier), ULink spent the Spring 2014 semester preparing for its pilot year. For its initial year, ULink received over 300 applications for only 100 advisor spots, from four different entry schools. After selecting the advisors, ULink spent the summer planning its first training and selecting the advisees for its first year. In total, over 1,400 first years requested an advisor.
ULink started its first year with over 100 advisors and 400 first year advisees (randomly selected from the 1,400 who requested one). After an intial training over the 8/29-8/31 weekend, advising finally began! Over the course of the semester, there were many formal and informal advising sessions. Additonally, ULink held social events, famously winning an October kickball game against the University Guide Service (note: the final score is still disputed), and Continuing Education Trainings with groups such as the Office of African American Affairs and University Career Services.
In November, the Parents Committee awarded ULink a $21,000 grant to build an online-training site (in fact, the website that you are reading is a small part of that site) in order to train more advisors at the same time. In March, ULink founder Carey Stewart and ULink advisor Daniel Judge testified in front of the Board of Visitors Educational Policy Committee as to the effectiveness of ULink.
Finally, ULink moved to a hybrid training model. In order to facilitate training of more advisors (anticipating over 200 advisors for its second year), it began offering one in-person day of training and supplementing that with many online training modules, created by various University resources themselves.
Entering its second year, ULink started off strong with a staff of 240 trained advisors matched with over 1200 first year students. Every incoming Curry and Nursing Student received a ULink Advisee and significant progress was made in the College of Arts and Sciences and the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. Additionally, ULink has worked hard to create a strong internal identity by creating social families of advisors to foster friendships and collaboration with in the organization.
Similar to the year before, ULink received another Parents Committee grant to build even more functions on our Website. With these new projects, ULink is now able to match hundreds of students based off of academic interest with greater ease, upgrade our video module training platform, and open our service to every student through our Advisor Bio page.
In its third year, ULink took on an expanded group of 350 trained advisors and provided advisors for over 1800 first year students. Additionally, ULink provided an advisor to every incoming Engineering student.
ULink continued its upward grwoth trajectory, providing advisors for over 2000 first years. ULink provided an advisor to every incoming Engineering, Curry, and Nursing student.
This was another ground breaking year for ULink as it worked towards the goal of providing every incoming student with a trained peer advisor. ULink was also approved to become a Contracted Independent Organization (CIO) and enter dorms during "Dorm Talks" during UVA's Welcome Week for first years.
2019-2020: Elana Marmorstein and Grace Guenther
2018-2019: Chris Holland and James Esernio
2017 - 2018: Sunil Narasimhan and Matthew Kimpel
2016 - 2017: Jason Carrier and Danielle Hafer
2015 - 2016: Ricky Anjorin and Jason Carrier
2014 - 2015: Jason Carrier and Daniel Rosenfeld (Co-Founders)