First-semester student retention is a constant priority for undergraduate institutions. The transition to the collegiate level, and to a new scholastic program and format, is frequently challenging academically and socially—for this reason, many first-semester course schedules for incoming freshman undergraduates feature an introductory seminar to ease transition to an undergraduate lifestyle. Arizona State University features a required “Careers in the Life Sciences” course for its first-semester School of Life Sciences students, which has had tractable results in first semester student retention and academic success. Here, we evaluate a component of the seminar, the peer-mentorship program, for its efficacy in students’ first semester experience. Analysis of self-reports from 168 first-semester “mentees” and their 25 mentors indicates frequency of mentee-mentor contact was the best indicator of a higher first semester GPA, comfort with academic resources and study habits, and desire to engage in extracurricular activities and internships. These data indicate that access to a mentor who actively engages and verbally connects with their mentees is a valuable component of first-semester student academic integration and retention.