By Victoria Sanchez
It is not always what you know, it is who you know. Even bright students can be blocked from success if they do not meet the right people at the right times.
Southwestern College is in dire need of more extensive mentorship programs. Community colleges consistently show low transfer rates and low retention in transfer-required classes such as English or Math. Only 15 percent of SWC students are transferring into four-year universities following their time at the college, according to admissions employees. The number may be as low as eight percent.
Mentorships increase student production, decrease stress levels and help create a path to success, according to a study by David L. DuBois and Naida Silverthorn in The American Journal of Public Health.
MSE Mentorship Program is advertised as a network for STEM majors to receive counseling and a mentor, though faculty and staff are provided on a voluntary basis only. MSE is guilty of overselling and does not have adequate resources to be an adequate program for students in need.
I know, I was a part of the program. I almost fell through the cracks.
MSE offers the extra help needed to advance in STEM-related field, as well as internships that lend a necessary boost to move forward. Problem is, it excludes students who are not STEM majors. Community college is a melting pot of hidden talent and outstanding individuals that require equal support from the college. No one major is more important than another. Students should have the opportunity to be offered the help that they need. (Yes, even those pesky majors under the School of Arts and Communications.)
Mentors are not to be confused with counselors. SWC counselors are notorious for not providing the help students need. Appointments are nearly impossible to make and advice is often vague. Too many of our overworked counselors are underinformed about specific majors and cannot offer strong advice.
A mentor knows what path a student needs to take because they have done it. They are experienced in the field and familiar with the discipline. They can be trusted to provide guidance, perspectives and options.
Mentors are able to provide students with a wide range of skills and assets. Not only will a student gain the necessary knowledge and a good sense of understanding of the field of their choice, they will also acquire interpersonal skills that will help enhance healthy relationships with family, friends and coworkers.
Students benefit by working closely with someone who has been in a field. Young students often enter college thinking they want to major in one thing and after a few months realize it is not what they want to do. This leads to a cycle of chaos and sampling classes in search of a career path. Time and money roll by as students take unnecessary classes. Mentors give students perspective and strategy. They also shed light on the career path.
Students with clarity of purpose will enjoy higher transfer rates. Students will ultimately know what classes they need and what they must do to advance in their field.
Mentors can help students achieve their goals, set a proper class schedule and inspire them to transfer sooner than the current six-year average. Mentors can be magic. Our college needs to develop mentorship programs like we see in journalism and nursing. Mentors can light the path. We need help finding them.