Mentoring at Community College: Helping Students Succeed

Mentoring at Community College: Helping Students Succeed
Learn about mentoring programs at community colleges around the country and the benefits they offer to students.
Community college can be a challenging prospect for new students, whether they are coming right out of high school or after being in the workforce for a number of years. To make the transition smoother, a number of community colleges across the country have established mentoring programs connecting new students with those who already know the ropes. In the past several academic years, more of these programs have been introduced, thanks to grant money and willing mentor participants. We’ll take a look at why mentoring can be a valuable tool in the community college environment and how some schools are using the concept for the benefit of new students.

What is Mentoring?
 
Mentoring programs work by pairing newcomers with older, more experienced students. Mentors may provide a number of valuable functions, including helping new students with their schedules, providing campus tours and offering information about resources and facilities available on campus. In some cases, mentors might also be faculty members dedicated to helping new students succeed by easing them through the transition between high school or the workforce and a college environment. These programs can be a powerful tool to student success when they are correctly implemented.
 
For students that need special help when they get to community college, a mentor program can truly be a lifesaver. The mentors that work in these organizations may point new students to the resources and additional assistance they need, whether it is academic, financial or of another sort. In addition to general transition assistance, mentors may work with specific areas like ESL services or transfer options. With a variety of benefits provided by mentor programs, it is clear why a number of community colleges across the country offer such types of services today.
 
Carroll Community College Features Great Start Program
 
One community college that has an effective mentoring program in place is Carroll Community College in Maryland. This school’s Great Start Program helps new students with everything from finding their way to their classrooms to getting involved with the activities the college offers. According to the Carroll County Times, this mentor program is in its second year, which it started off in style with a kick-off event to explain their services to new students on campus.
 
The CCC program currently includes seven mentors who oversee 25 students and provide one-on-one support in a variety of capacities. These experienced students are committed to ensuring that new enrollees at CCC find academic and social success in their new college environment., by helping them learn about what is available and encouraging them to get involved. Mentors fill a unique role in the lives of the students they take under their wing.
 
“They’re not therapists or moms or tutors or even best friends,” Kristie Crumley, director of student life, explained to the Times. “They’re here to be a friendly face and show them the resources at school and make sure they are not running into any major problems.”
 
Those who qualify for the mentor program must be enrolled in a college success class, agree to meet with their mentors at least five times during the semester, attend six workshops and participate in a minimum of 15 hours of community service by April. Those who complete these requirements, and remain full-time students for three consecutive semesters, will be given a $500 scholarship.
 
Cleveland State Community College Offers Financial Aid in Mentorship Program
 
Mentoring can be about much more than simply walking students through the process of higher education, as one Midwestern school is about to discover. Cleveland State Community College is launching their own brand of mentoring program this year to increase the number of high school students in the community who are able to afford a postsecondary degree program. In addition to traditional mentoring services, Cleveland State will connect high school graduates with financial aid programs to make the college experience affordable.
 
According to a report at Times Free Press, the mentoring program at Cleveland State aims to provide “last-dollar” community college scholarships to students who need additional financial aid. The program is being done as a partnership between Cleveland State and the Allan Jones Foundation, and it is specifically geared to Bradley County students.
 
“As a result of the generosity of Allan Jones and the work of tnAchieves, we can now provide vital help to students who struggle to pay for a college education,” Cleveland State President Dr. Carl Hite was reported saying at Times Free Press.
 
Women’s Mentoring Program Expanded at North Shore Community College
 
In the Boston area, North Shore Community College is helping some female students get back on their feet through a specialized mentoring program just for them. Through a grant received by the school last year, North Shore has been able to add a Women in Transition program designed to assist women students facing financial hardship, addiction or abuse. According to a report at Boston.com, this program offers 24 women each year the chance of a college education that they might not have otherwise.
 
“This is a very supportive, very connected program for women who have come back to college after much adversity,” WIT program director Margaret Figgins-Hill told Boston.com. “We have seen so much success with it. The eyes who are looking at me in September when they begin are not the eyes looking at me in May. It’s a whole new person who leaves the program.”
 
That is what successful mentoring is about, no matter where it’s found.

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