Mayor Bloomberg Should Fund College Mentorship Programs to Help High School Students

This article was co-authored with Maryam Aleem, Oronde Tennant, Yah-Hanna Jenkins & Silva Durango.

Establish a college student-led mentorship program through federal work-study programs to prepare high school students for college by aiding the college application process, fostering leadership skills, encouraging community service, and ensuring college success. 

In New York City public high schools, students are not provided with sufficient information and resources for applying to college due to a lack of guidance counselors. In New York, the ratio of high school students to guidance counselor is 416 to 1. The ratio established by the National School Counseling Association as a minimum for what students need for proper advising is 250 students to 1 guidance counselor. It is important that students have additional support and resources to aid in college preparation. 

President Obama has encouraged greater civic engagement and investing in expanding mentorship, federal student aid, and social capital. In response to President Obama’s call, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg launched the ReServe Transition Coach Program, which provides at-risk youth with mentorships from engaged professionals. Several college mentorship programs throughout New York City, like Student Success Center and Latino for Youth for Higher Education, provide mentorship to high school students, but often mentors do not receive financial support for participating in these programs. 

Analysis 

Recruiting college mentors for high school seniors can be an effective tool for raising the number of college- and career-ready students in the United States. Mentoring programs can empower students to serve their communities and leverage the work of over-stretched counselors. Therefore, colleges in New York City should partner with low performing high schools and establish college mentorship programs. Mentoring programs can cultivate leadership skills and ensure college success. According to a study in Mentoring & Tutoring Journal, “at the end of the one-year mentoring experience, mentored students had a higher GPA, completed more units, and had a higher retention rate.”

Federal work-study programs deliver over “$1 billion in funds to nearly 700,000 students each year.” Students who receive work-study funds tend to work in administrative roles on campus as opposed to important learning opportunities. Federal work-study programs can utilize this funding to create a mentorship program in which students would be able to help high school students with college advisement and professional tools for successful matriculation. 

Next Steps 

• Universities should seek out partnerships with organizations like National College Advising Corp that connect low-performing high schools with mentorship programs and provide training for college students. Through this assistance, college resources are preserved and high schools receive mentorship, increasing graduation rates. 

• College mentors will be required to commit one year to high school students. Training will be mandatory to ensure mentor proficiency. Qualified mentors will receive work-study funds for training and mentorship and those that do not will receive school credit for training and mentorship. 

All mentors will receive the social benefit of giving back. 

• High school juniors and seniors who have participated in the mentorship program can become mentors to sophomores and freshmen once they enroll in a New York City college. High school students who mentor will receive community service credit for school as well as recognition when applying to college through federal student aid.