The Value of Mentoring Programs in Community College

The Value of Mentoring Programs in Community College
Learn about the variety of mentoring programs available in community colleges, and why you may want to be involved as a mentee or mentor.
Community colleges across the country have implemented specific support programs to stimulate student support and success. Often referred to as “mentor services” or “mentor programs,” community college mentors can be paramount leaders for guiding and encouraging younger students. Mentors are often older community college students who have demonstrated specific academic or professional successes in their collegiate studies. By sharing their knowledge and insight with new and younger students, community colleges have designed powerful programs to enhance the success of all students and campus members. 
 
What is a Mentor Program?
 
While each community college has its own unique mentoring program, the general concept focuses on pairing a new or young student with an older, more experienced student. Oftentimes, mentors will guide new students by helping them set their schedules, by providing campus tours, or by offering to serve a new student as an academic tutor or study buddy. 
 
When engaging in a mentoring program, mentors are considered to be the “experts” in their field or organization, while mentees are the more novice and less experienced organization members. In the case of community colleges, mentors are normally students, although may often also be professors, while mentees are new and younger students, or students who may needs special support services, such as ESL support, transfer support, and so forth. 
 
Community College Mentor Programs
 
 
As Hostos Community College reveals, their successful mentor program is supported by their campus’ Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL), along with the cooperation of the Office of Academic Advisement. 
 
With the collaboration of these two larger campus organizations, the Hostos mentor program has evolved to engage a variety of collegiate members, including students, staff, and members on the mentor steering committee. In an attempt to support all Hostos Community College students, Hostos asserts: “Research has proven that students who are connected to and feel comfortable at an institution of higher learning are more likely to graduate from that institution. Contrarily, students who must rely on their own support networks are more likely to transfer or drop-out.” 
 
In order to engage all students, while also focusing on welcoming new students to their campus and programs, the Hostos mentor program has embraced the shared vision that personal connections, which are fostered between mentors and mentees, can teach students to become more focused, supported, and engaged in their collegiate success. As Hostos further explains, “The positive connections that students make at the college foster the creation of a safe and comfortable learning environment where academic exploration and experimentation are encouraged.”
 
In addition to Hostos’ clear focus and philosophy, Hostos Community College has also identified clear mentorship goals and principals, some of which include:
  • Mentors will work with mentees to establish a network of support.
  • Mentors will foster a relationship with their mentee that guides the student on the “journey towards self-reliance, successful graduation, and transfer to a four-year institution or job placement.”
  • Mentors will challenge their mentees to confront and overcome personal, academic, and professional challenges.
  • Mentors will strive to help mentees establish a stronger sense of self-esteem and confidence as they continue their pursuit for enhanced knowledge and higher education. 
Ultimately, by focusing on their philosophy and goals, “The Hostos Mentoring Programs intends to help Hostos Community College students feel supported by college personnel, comfortable and safe in a welcoming learning environment, and challenged and rewarded by successfully navigating the college process.” As students are supported by their designated or chosen mentors, the Hostos mentors hope to teach all students to become more active, confident, and positive life-long learners. 
 
 
While Hostos Community College serves to support all new and novice students, many other community colleges have designed mentor programs to more intensely support specific focus groups and student populations. 
 
For example, Scottsdale Community College has created their mentor program in conjunction with their campus Women’s Leadership Group. By working with this group, the Scottsdale mentor program has been designed to “Provide opportunity for women to focus on their individual learning goals and enable them to take advantage of professional opportunities within the Maricopa County Community College District.” 
 
By working with a mentor, the Scottsdale mentorship program encourages all mentees to become more focused on their potential future job / career by guiding students through the academic process with professional and structured support. To help mentees, mentors must establish trust, and must also maintain a relationship with their mentee, as “The mentor creates a learning environment that facilitates professional growth while understanding what both bring to the relationship.” Scottsdale also supports their mentors and mentees by offering monthly seminars that feature keynote female speakers, and mentees are provided with information, tips, and insights. 
 
If you are a new community college student, finding a mentor can help your academic and social transition greatly. On the other hand, if you are an experienced member of your community college campus, extending your friendship and wisdom as a mentor can greatly benefit new members to your college. 
 
References:
 
 
Mentor, available at http://www.mentoring.org/
 
Mentor Foundation, available at http://www.mentorfoundation.org/
 

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