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Mentoring: A tool to help students adapt

“My mentee knows he can count on me if he has any questions, needs motivation or has any sort of problem.”

Neil Kazi Aoual, bachelor’s student, mentor

Looking to enroll in the Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) preparatory year? In a time when distance learning has become the norm, the HEC Montréal community is stepping up to provide support and help you adapt. One such example is the remarkable mentoring services provided by volunteers, students and alumni.

Drop-out prevention

The BBA preparatory year is a year of adaptation for students who were educated in a school system outside Quebec. These students—called prépas at HEC Montréal—have to transition to a new way of learning in a different environment. The preparatory year is a chance for them to level up and learn some of the work methods they will need to succeed in North America. This is also a time for them to explore the culture of Montréal and the rest of Quebec.

Since Fall 2020, many prépas have had to delay their arrival in Quebec due to the pandemic. Some are still taking courses online from their home. This unusual situation has put them at greater risk of isolation, depression and dropping out. For this reason, BBA program teachers have set up innovative solutions to help students adapt remotely so they can get through their academic challenges and any difficult emotional situations they may face. Peer mentoring for all prépas is one such solution.

“Several former students quickly volunteered. We are all the more grateful now, during this particular time when social ties continue to play a key part in adaptation.”

Karine Deshayes, Full-time Lecturer and Preparatory Year Coordinator

Mentors are selected, prepared and trained

Mentors are upper-year students, alumni and volunteers. They are very familiar with the BBA program, as well as teachers’ expectations and the available resources. They are supported by the preparatory year pedagogical team and trained on the techniques of providing assistance and psychological support. For the mentorship to work, mentors are paired with prépas based on personality, areas of interest and country of residence.


In hundreds, on 5 continents


People mentored since Fall term 2020




Countries of residence

E.g., Canada, France, Morocco, Tunisia, Senegal, Côte d’Ivoire, China.

Advice and assistance

Our volunteers are able to support prépas by lending an ear and offering advice. Their role is essentially to help students get oriented in their new school environment and understand their teachers’ expectations. However, volunteers are also asked to look for signs of distress in their mentees. They can provide students with support and guide them to the best resources. Beyond that, mentors can also teach students how to help themselves at HEC Montréal, for example, by contacting Student Services, their teachers or one of any number of associations on campus.

“It’s reassuring to feel supported by someone who has some perspective on the challenges that come with the preparatory year and student life in Montréal.”

Paulina Piazzon, mentee

In addition providing concrete support, this type of mentoring is consistent with the teaching approach for the preparatory year. We place great importance on our students developing some of the qualities we hope that future managers will possess, such as being a good listener and demonstrating empathy and cultural sensitivity.


And it works!

So far, the dropout rate has remained quite low, and we have been receiving positive feedback. Students are getting invested and staying in school, and feel that they belong in the HEC Montréal community.

In the future, we will continue to offer mentoring to all students enrolled in the preparatory year.

“At first, I didn’t realize everything my mentor had to offer me. Now, she’s one of the first people I turn to when I have a question. She’s a big sister who is providing guidance and wants the same thing I do: my success at HEC Montréal.”

Clarisse Garcin, mentee



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