Washington, D.C., June 7, 2011—Given the urgent need to increase the success of underrepresented students in college, practitioners from college access programs and youth development organizations find mentoring to be a valuable strategy in providing students with the emotional and instrumental support they need to achieve the goal of receiving a college degree. Mentoring helps to nurture students’ college aspirations, prepare them for a successful transition from high school to college, and connect them to academic and social supports once on campus.
In a new brief, The Role of Mentoring in College Access and Success, the Pathways to College Network, directed by the Institute for Higher Education Policy (IHEP), along with the National College Access Network (NCAN) distills and synthesizes scholarly research specifically as it pertains to the role of mentoring to promote college access and success. With an emphasis on implications for practitioners, the brief aims to serve as a tangible resource for individuals from college access programs, youth development organizations, and advocacy groups. In addition, The Role of Mentoring in College Access and Success features an interview with the leadership of Philadelphia-Futures’ Sponsor-A-Scholar program to share lessons from the field.
“This brief is intended to serve as a tangible resource for practitioners seeking to ensure that their efforts—are based in research and targeted in ways that will produce the most positive outcomes for students—particularly given limited program resources,” said IHEP President Michelle Asha Cooper, Ph.D. “With the prevalence and positive impact of mentoring generating a large body of social science research, IHEP and NCAN believe it’s important to make meaningfully contributions to the existing conversation about mentoring to help support students along the high school-to-college continuum, and ultimately improve student outcomes and completion rates.”
Effective Practices of Mentoring For Student Success
In identifying the role of mentoring in college, the brief provides a set of effective practices—grounded in research—for professionals at the K-12 or higher education level who are interested in starting mentoring programs or improving existing efforts.
- Planning. Conduct research on student needs and effective strategies for meeting the identified needs; develop a theory of action for how the mentoring process will achieve desired student outcomes; recruit and involve key stakeholders and organizations; and identify and secure the infrastructure, resources, and financial support to operate the program for at least 12 months.
- Mentor Recruitment, Training, and Matching. Create a work plan and marketing materials for recruiting mentors; develop a process and criteria for screening, selecting, and matching mentors with mentees; and develop and implement an ongoing mentor training program.
- Delivery of Mentoring Services. Require mentors to commit to meet regularly with their mentees for a minimum of six months and preferably 12 months; provide mentors with ongoing support in arranging structured and engaging activities with their mentees; and encourage parents and other family members to support the involvement of the mentee with the mentor.
- Monitoring Program Effectiveness. Monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of the mentoring relationships on an ongoing basis; use multiple indicators to assess the impact of mentoring; and document the cost-effectiveness of investing in mentoring as an intervention that produces positive outcomes for students.
The Pathways to College Network is an alliance of national organizations that advances college opportunity for underserved students by raising public awareness, supporting innovative research, and promoting evidence-based policies and practices across the K-12 and higher education sectors. It promotes the use of research-based policies and practices, the development of new research that is both rigorous and actionable, and the alignment of efforts across middle school, high school, and higher education in order to promote college access and success for underserved students. The Role of Mentoring in College Access and Success is part of its Research to Practice publication series, which seeks to bridge the gap between scholarly research and practitioners working throughout the country to increase college access and success for first-generation, low income, and minority students.
Incorporated in 1995, the mission of NCAN is to build, strengthen, and empower communities committed to college access and success so that all students, especially those underrepresented in postsecondary education, can achieve their educational dreams. Through advising and financial assistance, NCAN members share a commitment to encourage and enable students to set and achieve educational goals. For more information about NCAN, visit the organization online at www.collegeaccess.org.
To download a free copy of The Role of Mentoring in College Access and Success, visit the Pathways to College Network’s Web site at www.pathwaystocollege.net. The Pathways to College Network’s Web site is updated on a weekly basis and features relevant tools and resources to support practitioners, policymakers, and researchers focusing on key issues such as college access and success, financial aid and affordability, and preparation and support.
For more information about IHEP and its other programmatic efforts helping to increase college access and success for historically underserved student populations, visit the organization’s Web site at www.ihep.org.