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Be Someone Who Matters to Someone Who Matters: Mentor!

Imagine you are back in your senior year of high school, getting ready to go off to college for the first time. Regardless of where you grew up or where you were going to college, chances are you were pretty nervous, right?

Many of our College Now scholarship recipients feel the same way about going to college. For some, it may be their first time away from home. For all, it’s a new environment – academically, socially and emotionally – that they have not experienced before. And, for many of our scholarship recipients, they are the first ones in their families to pursue postsecondary education.

For a student graduating from high school and going to college without a parent, guardian, sibling or other relative to turn to for advice, the undertaking can be especially daunting. With this in mind, College Now launched a Mentoring Program in 2011 pairing our scholarship recipients with a professional mentor from the community who will stick with that student throughout their college career. In the first two years of the relationship, mentors provide crucial college-going advice to students. As students become upperclassmen and begin looking at life beyond college, mentors also provide professional connections and assistance to help students transition into the working world.

Growing from a small cohort of 50 pairs to now matching all College Now scholarship recipients (about 350 per year) with a mentor, the College Now Mentoring Program has quickly become a hallmark of our work. Currently, 1,200 community members volunteer as mentors for our scholarship recipients – but we still need more.

As another school year ends, we need to recruit 100 more mentors to match with our incoming class of scholarship recipients. The Mentoring Program will match mentors with students based on the postsecondary degree or program the student is pursuing, hobbies and interests and high schools and colleges attended.

Mentoring a college student for four years sounds like a big time commitment. However, College Now recognizes that both mentors and mentees have other obligations and, as such, has developed a robust online platform to help eliminate common mentoring concerns, such as time and physical location. Mentors and mentees are required to communicate on the online platform, Chronus, once a month at minimum, and are only required to meet in person three times a year – conveniently, College Now hosts mentoring program events throughout the year that bring mentors and mentees together, helping pairs meet that in-person time commitment. Of course, many of our mentor/mentee pairs go above and beyond this communication requirement, calling or texting on a more regular basis and meeting in-person more frequently.

The impact of the Mentoring Program is evident – in our first three years of mentoring, first- to second-year retention rates improved to 94 percent! This is an outstanding retention rate, and it puts College Now’s scholarship recipients on a path to 80 percent completion, the rate at which students from the highest income quartile complete college. This is a testament to the dedication of our mentors.

And, while statistics are impressive, it’s the stories of the program’s impact that truly show why mentoring is such a vital aspect of our students’ successes:

“Megan’s and my relationship is going great! She is so mature and responsible for her age and has a very bright future ahead of her. I’m proud of all of her accomplishments thus far. I find our relationship to be mutually beneficial and I hope she’s learning as much from me as I am from her.  I know I’ve enjoyed my time interacting with her and getting to know her.”  -Kelly (Mentor)

“Courtney is so supportive in everything I do and tries to offer me the best advice that she can. I believe it was a great match for the both of us, especially since we share the passion of art, and a passion for OSU.”  –Taenyshia (Mentee)

“College Now has given me the opportunity to make a professional connection with someone in my field of study. This organization has allowed me to get more insight into what I want to do and I’m eternally grateful.”  -Charles (Mentee)

“Devonna is great – such a bright and enthusiastic woman…..During our most recent exchange she did mention that she thinks we are a perfect match, with which I wholeheartedly agree! There are several similarities in how we think about our impact on the world and how we go about creating this impact which makes our mentor/mentee relationship a great deal of fun and even more meaningful.” -Charity (Mentor)

If you are interested in becoming a mentor with College Now, please visit our website. You can contact Madeline Rife, Mentoring Program Manager, with any questions or concerns at 216.635.1063 or mrife@collegenowgc.org.

Be someone who matters to someone who matters. Become part of the College Now Mentoring Program today.