Remember when you graduated high school and went off to college? Were you overwhelmed by the course load, new financial freedom, and social uncertainty? Remember being on your own, left to deal with many adult issues for the first time?
Individual experiences are unique, but every college freshman has their world rocked in some way.
It’s no different today
In fact, some aspects of college are scarier than ever. Just think about how much it costs. Working in the library alone won’t cut it. Or how about the competitiveness of the job market? A college degree doesn’t guarantee employment anymore.
I’ve always been passionate about helping college students navigate these tough, important years. It’s a way to give back and stay connected with younger Clevelanders. I genuinely enjoy watching them grow and I learn a lot about myself in the process.
Recently I discovered a mentorship opportunity that surprised and inspired me. So much so that I’m compelled to share it with you (just so you know, I receive nothing for writing this).
College Now Greater Cleveland delivers
If you’ve been around Cleveland any length of time you’re probably aware of College Now (formerly Cleveland Scholarship Programs). Each year College Now assists more than 20,000 students with advisory services, financial aid counseling, and scholarships.
It’s far more than just a scholarship program
College Now is obsessed with helping scholarship recipients graduate and ensuring they take full advantage of the resources available. The results so far have been remarkable:
- scholarship recipients have a first to second-year retention rate of 91%, compared to the national average of 58%
- scholarship recipients have a 64% graduation rate, more than double the national average for students from low income backgrounds (23%) and greater than the OVERALL national average (54%)
In 2011 College Now upped its game and established a formal Mentoring Program whereby each scholarship recipient is matched with a mentor.
Makes sense, right? Just imagine the impact on retention and graduation rates, and ultimately, Cleveland.
I attended the mentor orientation last week and was really impressed. The presentation was well-delivered, informative and concise. The online application was thorough and I sat for a short 10-minute phone interview. We discussed my professional experience, my college studies within and outside my major, my hobbies and interests, etc. We also talked about my mentor experience and how I might handle certain situations.
The requirements for mentors are simple and few
The biggest requirement is a college degree, which makes sense. Other than that, you just have to make contact with your mentee twice a month and attend three program-wide events each year.
You could probably accomplish everything in less than one hour per month.
And if there’s ever an issue with your mentee that’s outside your comfort zone, College Now has resources to handle it for you.
The program is set up for success by a thoughtful mentor-mentee matching process
Any productive relationship starts with compatibility. College Now uses information provided in the application and phone interview and matches you with the student who seems most compatible. You still have a chance to discuss it with them prior to beginning the relationship.
They’ve made it even easier with slick technology provided by iMentor
iMentor is a unique, online platform that guides communication between mentor and mentee with an interactive and personalized curriculum. iMentor regularly prompts you with topics to discuss with your mentee, and the topics evolve as the student moves from freshman to senior. iMentor also enables College Now to monitor each relationship and step in where need be, all without being too “big brother.”
The pilot program College Now launched in 2011 was a success and approximately 50 students received mentors. This year they are shooting for 200 matches (out of roughly 300 annual scholarships).
These college students need our help
I wish I had a mentor back in college and I’m sure you can relate.
Approximately 80 more students need mentors to meet the goal. And they need more men because students are gender-matched.
Do you have one hour a month to spare? That’s less than 15 minutes a week!
Honestly, I hope every student is matched with a mentor this year.
This is a unique opportunity for all of us to invest in our city. So if you feel you’re a good fit for this program, I strongly encourage you to check it out here. I’m confident you won’t regret it..