Peer Mentoring and Texting
Mentoring is a service that more colleges are turning to as a way of improving the first-year experience for students. It makes sense when you consider the many benefits of mentoring for students. According to the National Mentoring Partnership, mentored students are 52 percent less likely than their non-mentored peers to skip a day of school. Mentored students are more involved at school. Also, they’re more likely than their peers to maintain a positive attitude toward school.
Some colleges and universities are making use of peer mentoring by employing current students to mentor new students. This, too, has proven to be effective. In one study conducted by Drs. Benjamin Castleman and Lindsay Page, peer mentors used Signal Vine to text recent high school graduates. Peer mentors texted incoming students about their early experiences in college and provide tips on the transition.
The study showed that peer mentoring works. Mentees who received peer mentor texts were 4.5 percentage points more likely to enroll in a four-year institution. The benefits of peer mentoring are most evident among students with little access to college planning supports and students early into the college-going process.
Why it works
The most obvious reason why peer mentoring works is found right in the name: peer. It’s old news that students are more likely to listen to their peers. Why not have their peers help them go to college?
Peer mentoring has been shown to have a positive impact on GPA, credits earned, and retention. Further, peer mentors can help incoming freshmen better adjust to campus life and help them feel more satisfied with their colleges. When students have access to a mentor who just recently went through the things they are just now experiencing, they often do better. These students have access to peers who made a successful transition to college and encourage them that they can do it, too.
We recommend that college staff connect first-year students to peer mentors before students get to campus. This can help calm nerves before students get to campus, leaving them feeling more confident about their first day. This also gives first-year students a chance to ask their peers what to expect the first day of college.
Once first-year students make it to campus, peer mentors might reach out to their mentees to ask how things are going. Simple wellness checks can help new students feel more connected to campus with the knowledge that they have resources there to help them. Take the below exchange.
In this example, the mentor reached out to his mentee to ask her how things are going. Further, he related his own experiences of being a first-year student to her. From there, the mentee opened up to the mentor and requested help with meeting people. Then, based on his own experiences, the peer mentor shared advice on how to make friends on campus, providing his mentee with details about campus events for students. This exchange helped the mentee find an appropriate campus resource while reminding her that it’s not uncommon to struggle at first to meet others.
Our partner Brigham Young University (BYU) uses the Signal Vine platform to connect peer mentors to their first-year mentees. To read about their use case and to learn how BYU increased engagement, fostered stronger relationships, and provided first-year students with a better experience, check out the case study.
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