College Now Mentoring Program
While postsecondary attendance rates have increased steadily over the past few decades, college retention and completion rates continue to lag behind. First generation students and/or those from low-income backgrounds face particular obstacles and, if they dropout, not only fail to attain their degrees but also have non-dischargeable loan debt. Intervention programs such as mentoring have been shown to increase the likelihood of graduation. For instance, The American Prospect reported that students who participated in a mentoring program at the University of North Carolina had a 17% higher graduation rate than those who did not.
For years, one of the distinguishing features of College Now has been to offer retention services to our scholarship recipients through numerous types of outreach – email, phone, text messages, Facebook and an in-person interview. These services are particularly important to the majority of students who receive our scholarships – students from low-income families and/or who are the first in their families to attend a postsecondary institution. Many of these students face a number of obstacles – academically, socially, culturally and financially – that could adversely affect their success in college.
We know College Now’s retention services make a difference:
- Our scholarship students have a first to second-year retention rate of 91%, whereas the national average is 58%
- Our scholarship students have a 64% graduation rate, more than double the national average for students from low income backgrounds (23%) and in excess of the national average (54%)
College Now’s Mentoring Program
To augment and deepen the retention services that College Now provides to its scholarship recipients, College Now launched a formal mentoring program in September 2011. With grant funding from the Business of Good Foundation in Ashtabula County, College Now has entered into a partnership with iMentor Interactive, based in New York City.
- iMentor Interactive’s mission is to facilitate the development of high-quality, high-impact mentoring programs using an unique, online platform that guides communication between mentor and mentee with an interactive and personalized curriculum.
- College Now is one of the first organizations in the country to use iMentor software for mentoring in the postsecondary context. Accordingly, College Now has been working closely with iMentor to develop a tailored curriculum directed to these students.
- College Now has committed to scaling the program, starting with about 60 pairs in its first year, and building up to the point where each College Now scholarship recipient is matched with a mentor.
What we’re looking for in mentors:
- Individuals with professional backgrounds looking to have an impact with helping a student succeed both personally and professionally and, at the same time, improve their own leadership skills.
- Companies looking for a path to direct employees towards community engagement.
Your role as a mentor:
- Commit to being paired with a College Now scholarship recipient mentee
- Provide guidance on college, managing time, navigating life’s barriers, career, etc.
- Invest a minimal amount of time – the majority of communications are done electronically, at a minimum of twice a month
- Attend College Now hosted group mentee/mentor events four times per year
- Plan informal get-togethers between you and your mentee
What our mentees and mentors have to say about our program:
Deborah Lauer (mentor) from Eaton Corporation recommends becoming a mentor because, “it’s easy to use iMentor…we’ve managed to keep in touch at least once a week. I enjoy corresponding with Karolina…it’s great to connect with someone starting out in their studies and career…you both benefit from each other’s experiences.”
Her mentee, Karolina Kucerova from Kent State says, “I was surprised at how well they matched me to my mentor Debbie Lauer… I find it easy to build a personal relationship with Debbie because I am always on the computer, so e-mailing her is easy and we can get to know each other through the web.”
Another College Now Mentor, John Hammond from Chartis Insurance says, “I have greatly enjoyed the College Now mentoring program. The most enjoyable aspect of the College Now mentoring program has been the enthusiasm expressed by my mentee – Vince Scotese. Vince is enthused about Cleveland State, passionate about doing well in school, enthusiastic about his hobbies (his big one is his Jeep). Vince’s level of enthusiasm has rubbed off on me. He definitely has a “Glass Half-Full” attitude and whether I’m a mentor or a mentee that is the kind of person I want to be around.”
The commitment is less than you think: complete an on-line questionnaire, attend an orientation, and you’ll be on your way! Your mentee match will arrive in your iMentor inbox, with directions on how to take the first step. iMentor makes it easy to communicate through their online platform, which keeps everything organized in one place and tracks communications. A weekly curriculum suggests talking points for email communication with your mentee and also tracks their school schedule.
Mentoring benefits everyone. A small investment of time makes a BIG impact in a student’s life as well as on our community. The impact of even a 1% increase in students graduating from college has huge benefits on communities – educational attainment is the biggest predictor of success for cities and metro areas today.
If you are interested in learning more about becoming a mentor, contact Lauren Marchaza at 216.241.5587 or email@example.com!
To become a mentor, complete the mentor application by clicking here.