This fall at Arkansas Tech University-Ozark Campus, 14 faculty and staff members volunteered to participate in a pilot program, acting as mentors to 39 first-year students.
Campus administrators are pleased with the results, according to an ATU-Ozark statement.
To recognize the mentors’ achievements, a luncheon was held Wednesday, Feb. 13, in the Student Services Conference Center, where each was awarded a certificate of appreciation.
Headed by Mike Bogue, coordinator of the Student Success Center, the Ozark Campus Mentoring Program is aimed at retaining conditional-prep students – those with an ACT composite score below 15 and/or COMPASS reading score below 62.
Mentors help the new students make a successful transition into college, establishing a relationship with a first-time student by: making them feel welcome, establishing rapport, giving advice and guidance, offering encouragement and directing them to pertinent campus resources.
“A campus contact person can make the difference in a new student’s academic life – research shows that a first-time student who has a mentor is more likely to succeed in college than one who doesn’t,” Bogue said.
Bogue said, according to preliminary data, the fall-to-spring retention rate for mentees in the program is 88.89%, which is significantly higher than the campus average for all first-time, full-time degree-seeking students: 73.42%.
“It takes a campus to retain a student, and our mentors are a big part of our campus’ ongoing retention efforts,” Bogue said.
Also, Bogue surveyed mentees to gauge their satisfaction with the program. All were asked, “As a new Ozark Campus student, was having an Ozark Campus mentor in the fall beneficial?” Nearly 82% answered “very beneficial” – the highest option.
Others possible answers included “somewhat beneficial” (9 percent), “neither beneficial nor unbeneficial” (9 percent), “somewhat unbeneficial” and “very unbeneficial.”
One mentor, math and computer information systems instructor Michael Murders, said mentoring is a special type of teaching.
Other mentors include: Theresa Fontaine of Alma, registered nursing; Pat McCreary of Ozark, science; Brenda Shoop of London, academic affairs; Bonnie Sher of Van Buren, health information technology; Clinton Hall of Ozark, business technology; Debbie McClure of Clarksville, cosmetology; Debbie Wofford of Ozark, business technology; Ester Leonard of Alma, practical nursing; Gwen Faulkenberry of Ozark, English; Dr. Ken Warden of Ozark, business and community outreach; Cathy Rosewell of Ozark, cosmetology; Kristie Moore of Van Buren, library; and Richard Harris, student services.