Under ordinary circumstances, a college freshman invited to the university president's office would be worried.

Or at the very least, intimidated.In the case of Clayton Lee, Irene Lee and Kristina LeBaron, however, the visit they had with Brigham Young University President Rex Lee Friday was more like checking in with a favorite uncle.

Lee asked them about their hometowns, their families, their grades and their future plans.

"You want to be a nurse?" he said to LeBaron. "Then you'll have to get the grades. That's very important. You'll need those grades."

He chatted with Irene about Hong Kong, where she was born, and joked with Clayton about a church mission.

Lee is their mentor, actually the first volunteer among the university professors and officials who will be taking some extra interest in freshmen this semester.

It's all part of a new program designed to "bless the freshmen" coming to BYU.

Students who indicate an interest in the mentoring program are sent letters about their mentors. The students respond with a letter to the assigned mentor.

Mentor assignments are fairly flexible, sometimes determined by matching majors and colleges, and sometimes, as in the case of LeBaron and the two Lees, by alphabetical designations.

Then they meet. Mentors will spend about an hour initially just getting acquainted, answering questions about college life and sharing bits of wisdom as needed.

After that, mentors will be expected to keep tabs on the students through that first year, maybe going to a devotional or to lunch one day or checking in with an occasional phone call.

The students, in turn, are asked to keep the mentors informed about how they're doing, what kind of grades they're getting and how the whole college experience is going.

John S. Tanner, associate academic vice president, said the Freshman Year Experience Committee recommended the mentoring program as part of a whole new emphasis on putting the freshman at ease and feeling successful.

"This will give new students a friendly faculty contact in the university when they first arrive," said Tanner. "It'll also help them make that transition from high school to the college campus."