While all mentoring programs help improve student performance and graduation rates, some community colleges are finding that minority mentorship programs are even more beneficial. Colleges across the country are celebrating the outstanding results achieved through the collaborative efforts of on-campus minority mentoring programs. As the Education Resources Services Center articulates, “Mentoring is a process that can increase the retention of minority students, with larger numbers graduated and hired for faculty positions.”
To discover the benefits of minority mentoring opportunities, consider what some of the top-performing organizations have been able to achieve with their local community college support.
In their paper, Institutionalizing Mentoring in Community Colleges, Dr. Robin Phelps-Ward and Dr. Amanda O. Latz make the point that "Opportunities for institutionalized mentoring in community colleges have the potential to manifest in the promotion and tenure process, faculty development seminars, student recruitment and admissions procedures, and throughout curriculum development. However, colleges must make a concerted effort to weave and explicitly communicate mentoring as a value through mission and vision statements, strategic goals and outcomes, and even course objectives."
This video reports on the minority mentoring initiative at Montgomery County Community College.
Examining the College Student Spectrum
According to the Community College Review-Journal, diversity among community college student populations is constantly shifting. In fact, recent US Census Bureau reports show that 42.3 percent of African Americans enrolled in college programs are specifically taking courses at community colleges. 50 percent of Native American college students, as well as over 55 percent of Hispanic college students, are also enrolled in classes at various community colleges.
However, as the Community College Review-Journal asserts, “Despite these changes, these populations of students may be confronted with many issues that are detrimental to their retention and success, such as lower levels of academic preparation in high school, lower socioeconomic status, and greater alienation in these institutions.”
Due to these specific challenges, many community colleges report higher dropout rates and lower academic achievement results from minority students. To address these issues, some college leaders believe that providing certain student population groups with direct support will allow for greater growth for both individuals and the community.
This video discusses the importance of mentoring minority students in community colleges.
The Benefits of Minority Mentoring Programs
Mentoring programs at community colleges are meant to offer individualized guidance and support. Expanding on the foundations of mentorship programs, minority mentoring specifically seeks to boost minority student achievement and retention.
The NC Community College System (NCCS) is an excellent example of how beneficial minority mentorship programs can be. Nicknamed as the “3MI,” the Minority Male Mentoring opportunities fostered by NCCS have allowed many college students to gain increased motivation and academic focus.
Specifically geared towards men, 3MI leaders hope to increase statistical enrollment rates that are lacking in numbers among African American men. Nearly 65 percent of African American students are women, and groups such as 3MI hope to balance out the divide, encouraging more minority males to gain stronger desires to enroll and complete college programs. According to one former student receiving mentorship from the 3MI organization, the mentorship opportunity encouraged “A motivating, positive influence that (made) him more goal-oriented,” while further adding that the “coordinators and advisors treat participants with respect.”
To guide mentees in the 3MI group, leaders have created specific venues for support. One common thread for many of the participants was the “Wasted Years and New Beginnings” evaluation workshop. Adding to this workshop resource, many of the 3MI participants also attended retreats, personal growth workshops, drug and substance abuse education classes, as well as community service activities.
Through these diverse and expansive offerings, 3MI members were able to shift their attitudes and behaviors, ultimately becoming mentors and role models for other students in the surrounding communities. Many of the 3MI mentees have overcome histories of drug use, criminal activity, and/or incarceration records. Therefore, the positive encouragement offered by leaders has been immeasurably beneficial for both students and community members.
The 3MI group is only one example of how beneficial a minority mentoring program can be. Consider joining an organization on your community college campus, either as a mentor or mentee, to help contribute to the rich fabric of your community.
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