Communication Studies, Department of


Date of this Version



Journal of College Student Personnel 26:1 (January 1985), pp. 80–81.


Copyright © 1985 American Association for Counseling and Development.


The telephone has been used for delivering a variety of services to college students. Because consumers typically initiate the telephone contact themselves, the effectiveness of these programs depends on the extent to which students are aware of the availability of services and of their own needs for assistance. First-semester freshmen may have the least adequate information about what constitutes a problem and where to go for help on campus. In 1982 the Dean of Students Office at the University of Texas at Austin conducted a pilot study of a telephone contact program in which peer advisers placed telephone calls to first-semester freshmen as a form of continuing orientation. Specifically, the project was designed to find out if the elements of a helping interview could be created in an unsolicited telephone call. Would the call be perceived as beneficial or as an intrusion into the lives of freshmen? Based on reactions from both students who received calls and the peer advisers who placed them, the telephone contact project seems to provide an alternative approach for new student orientation. Rather than being perceived as intrusive, the calls seem to provide an effective method not only for delivering information and referrals but also for personalizing a large university environment.