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Posted on December 11, 2012 by Angela Askey
An innovative mentoring program, started last fall at Mesa Community College, is changing the lives of incoming students by matching them with a MCC employee who will spend one-on-one time with them as they pursue a degree at MCC.
MCC executive assistant, Janet Felton, said the program was developed as a result of a challenge issued by MCC President Dr. Shouan Pan in response to President Barack Obama’s 2009 challenge to increase college completion rates.
Dr. Pan was concerned about the Fall 2010 statistics which showed that 69 percent (4,337 of 6,252 testing) of all new MCC students tested into at least one developmental course (reading, writing, or math) and 31 percent tested into two or more. Statistics also showed that 11,786 students (45% of those enrolled in Fall 2010) were first-generation students.
“Most first-generation students are often underprepared and entering college is a daunting experience for them,” Felton said. “This program provides assistance to make sure they have a smooth transition to the community college process.
The Connect 4 Success program is a voluntary program for students enrolled in two developmental classes in a semester, with students having the option to forgo the services. Mentors are randomly matched to a student and asked to attend an orientation and meet with their student at least six times per semester. Mentors provide support and guidance in whatever the student wishes to focus on.
Dominique, an MCC student, said she greatly appreciated the help she received from her mentor.
“She helped me so much with my classes,” Dominique said. “I think everyone should have one. They guide you in so many ways.”
For Dominique and other students participating in the program, the results have been overwhelmingly positive. The pilot program of Fall 2011 had 224 students eligible, with 149 who participated. At the end of the semester, participants had a 74 percent completion rate for the developmental English class, compared with non-participants who had a 55 percent completion rate. In developmental math, there was a 60 percent completion rate compared to a 30 percent completion rate of non-participants.
Participants in the program also tended to stay and enroll for spring classes, improving retention rates, with 76 percent who completed classes registering for Spring 2012. Statistics from Spring 2012 show continued progress in completion of classes.
Pam Dempsey, a graphic designer at MCC, is mentoring a returning veteran who is currently working as a bartender but has chosen to pursue an engineering degree. She’s helped support him through transportation problems and assisted as he tackled financial aid.
“He’s got such a good attitude,” said Dempsey, who admits she is learning as she goes. “It’s kind of fun, how much I’m learning about different things in the college by helping him.”
Felton said mentoring programs have been shown to impact students socially, emotionally, and academically. Through mentorship, MCC is helping students obtain employable 21st century job skills so they can give back to their communities.
Felton has presented information about Connect 4 Success at several national conferences, sharing MCC’s success.
“We are doing everything we can do to make students succeed and complete,” Felton said.
About Mesa Community College
Mesa Community College provides outstanding transfer and career and technical programs, workforce development, and life-long learning opportunities to residents of the East Valley area of Phoenix, Arizona. MCC excels in teaching, learning and empowering its more than 40,000 students to succeed in a local and global community. Mesa Community College is one of ten colleges that comprise the Maricopa County Community College District.
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