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Mentoring and Persistence to Success (MAPS)

Faculty mentoring


Mentoring and Persistence to Success provides comprehensive programs and holistic services designed to connect first generation and independent students with resources, empower them to achieve academic and personal goals, and guide them to graduation from Western Carolina University. MAPS also designs, supports, and administers summer programs for incoming freshman, most notably Catamount Gap and the Academic Success Program (ASP).

The university experience can be a challenging one for all students. An experience resulting in graduation often requires a support network that can help students navigate their personal academic journey. At WCU, you'll find the support you need for your specific situation, whether you need skills coaching, academic advice, major or career exploration, or social and personal support.

MAPS offers a variety of advising, coaching, and mentoring options

Compass Advising

The Compass Advising program provides additional guidance and support for first-generation, low income, or independent students in addition to any ASP participants. Students accepted to Compass are matched with an Academic Advisor from the MAPS office who serves as an advisor, coach, mentor, and guide throughout their academic journey at WCU. Students meet with their advisor bi-monthly for individualized consultations on academic, social, personal, and career goals, as needed.

For more information about Compass eligibility, see our eligibility guidelines.

To apply, visit the the Compass program page.

Compass Coaching

All Compass-eligible students can also meet with graduate students in the MAPS office for coaching on a variety of academic skills including study skills, time management, test prep strategies, and personal organization. Based on the student's need, coaching can be scheduled as a single session or reccuring throughout the semester. For more info on coaching or to schedule an appointment, please contact MAPS at 828-227-7171 or Students may also meet with a success coach through our Drop-In Services without making an appointment.

MAPS Mentor Program

The MAPS Mentor Program connects first-generation and independent students to a peer mentor who will help them navigate their first year at WCU. Peer mentors provide guidance related to academics, campus services, programs, and events. Students and mentors have regular contact over the course of their first semester (and beyond, if the student wishes). The mentor will also encourage the student's attendance and participation in First Gen/Independent activities and may attend some events with the student. Participating in a mentor relationship helps students to discover their strengths, develop their character, determine their focus, and discern their blind spots! For more information, contact MAPS at 828-227-7171 or

Drop-In Services

MAPS provides Drop-In Services to offer support for all Compass-eligible students, whether or not they are current participants in any of our programs. These Drop-In Services allow students to receive personalized support and referrals from MAPS staff as well as academic advising or coaching. Students can drop-in during regular office hours (Mon. - Fri.  8 am to 5 pm). If an advisor or coach is not immediately available, the student can schedule an appointment.

Academic Success Program

Western Carolina University offers the Academic Success Program (ASP) as an opportunity for students to begin their college experience early and to prepare them for success in college and beyond. This program is designed to provide a full year of support to facilitate a successful first-year experience and to help student develop skills to excel in their college career.  It helps motivate them to set higher goals in school and in life and holds them accountable for demonstrating attitudes and behaviors that coincide with reaching their goals.

ASP is a conditional admission program in that students who are invited to participate MUST successfully complete a 5-week intensive summer program. Students are enrolled in to seven credit hours of courses, all of which count toward graduation, and participate academic, social, and transitional support events, workshops, and seminars. The highly structured learning community environment is designed to guide and support students as they prepare for and transition in to their first college experience.

For more information about the Academic Success Program, please visit the ASP website or contact our office at 828.227.7171 or

Catamount Gap

So now that you've been accepted to WCU, why wait for fall? Get a head start on your college career by participating in Catamount Gap! Students who qualify for financial aid can use their previous-year aid package during the summer and complete 6-8 credit hours over 5 weeks. Bridge the gap from high school to college life in an active investigation of how your academic, social, and personal success development are intertwined. The program runs roughly from the end of June through July and provides students the opportunity to develop a network of faculty, staff, high-achieving upperclassmen, and peers in an inclusive learning community environment.

To learn more, visit

Student Organizations

In order to help our students develop community, the MAPS office supports two student organizations:

The Resilient Independent Student Association
The Resilient Independent Student Association (RISA) was established to serve and to support students that are former foster youth, former orphans, emancipated youth, homeless youth, as well as other non-traditional students. RISA strives to support, encourage, and uplift members of our organization and our community in order to foster an attitude of success and achievement, as well as to involve students in outreach, awareness, and advocacy. For more information, visit the RISA web page or contact

The First Gen Club
The First Gen Club helps build a community of students and supports the transition of first-generation students to WCU. The club hosts regular meetings, social events, and educational activities throughout the year in order to connect students with each other and provide information about resources and topics of interest. All first-generation students are welcome to join and attend! For more information, contact

Family/Student Supporter Information

We are committed to supporting our students as holistically as possible, including support via their family or support structure outside of the university! We keep a Family page updated with information for our students, with relevant information, tips, and resources! We also distribute a monthly newsletter with helpful tips about what your student might be experiencing this month. Please email in order to be added to our mailing list!


WCU has partnered with Baptist Children's Home to open HOMEBASE! HOMEBASE is used for RISA programming as well as other student outreach services. It is located to the right of the Cullowhee Baptist Church parking lot across from Tuck's. Please visit for more information!

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