New Study: Mentoring Impacts More Than Graduation Rates

“Mentoring” can be defined as the structured, intentional and sustainable relationship between a person with more experience and knowledge (mentor) and a person with less experience and knowledge (mentee). Research has shown that mentored relationships can encourage professional and personal success, and that pre-college programs that include mentoring can more effectively help students transition from high school to college. However, a recent study conducted by the University of Nevada, Reno College of Education suggests that the act of mentoring can contribute just as many positive outcomes for mentors as it does for mentees.

The study looked at college student mentors of sixth through twelfth grade students in the University’s Dean’s Future Scholars program. The program is an outreach, research-based mentoring approach to increase high school graduation rates and college enrollment for first-generation, low-income students. In the study, the college student mentors identified themes of how mentoring affected their own lives. The college mentors stated that being a mentor enabled them to reflect on their own behaviors as a student and make better decisions leading to their own success. As a result, the mentors believed it had inspired greater motivation for achievement, improved their own study and work habits, increased their accountability to faculty, and caused them to reevaluate their own professional goals. The lesson learned: being a mentor is more than supporting the goals of another. It is an opportunity to reflect on one’s own behavior, strategies and goals. Mentoring is a win-win situation for both those aspiring to attend college in the future, as well as for current college students who serve as their mentors.

The sixth through twelfth grader students who participated in the Dean’s Future Scholars Program since its foundation in 2000, have been given the knowledge, skills, direction and support to make the decisions necessary to graduate from high school and complete college. The program recruits students during their sixth-grade year from Washoe County School District Title I schools and mentors them through high school and college. The program has established a homegrown, sustainable educational model resulting in a 90 percent and 86 percent high school graduation rate of participants the last two years, respectively. This is significant when compared to Nevada’s high school graduation rate of 56 percent and the national average graduation rate of 74 percent.

The program requires students to meet with a college student mentor regularly to review grades, establish goals, make sure the necessary steps are taken to fulfill high school graduation requirements, and plan for college. The program also hosts a summer program to provide high school math courses, early college credit and an introduction to college life. It provides tutoring, examination preparation, community service projects, campus internships, college application assistance and financial aid. The program is largely funded by private donations and grants, along with campus resources.

The mentoring component is key to any academic or professional program. Aspiring college students should consider inviting a trustworthy, knowledgeable and experienced mentor to provide guidance in their lives, and trustworthy, knowledgeable and experienced professionals should consider mentoring students. To watch a short interview with Bob Edgington, director of the Dean’s Future Scholars Program, visit http://ow.ly/adKb5. Or, for more information on the program, contact Bob Edgington at 775-784-4237 or bobdfs@unr.edu.

 

Co-authors: Tara Madden-Dent & Dr. Patricia Miltenberger

Tara Madden-Dent is a Nevada Law Instructor and PhD Candidate in higher education administration at the University of Nevada, Reno College of Education; http://taramaddendent.com  http://twitter.com/#!/DrTaraMDent   http://www.linkedin.com/in/taramaddendent

Dr. Patricia Miltenberger is professor emeritus of higher education administration at the University of Nevada, Reno College of Education. http://wolfweb.unr.edu/homepage/pmilten/  https://twitter.com/#!/coyotepat   http://www.linkedin.com/pub/pat-miltenberger/20/719/38a

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Filed under Higher Education, Leadership

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