University College at Washington University in St. Louis Launches Innovative Student Support Program
University College at Washington University in St. Louis will launch an innovative mentorship program designed to provide comprehensive support for degree- and certificate-seeking adult learners. University College’s new Mentor Collective is an online mentorship program that matches students with University College alumni and others in the university community to help students set and achieve their goals, both academic and personal.
The vision for the program aligns with several initiatives laid out in Washington University’s university-wide strategic priorities, including promoting a more inclusive and diverse community. This is particularly relevant at University College, where the population is largely composed of working adults who bring significant and varied life and professional experience to their studies. The program aims to help these students meet a range of unique challenges—such as balancing school, a family, and full time job—by providing them with personalized support from peers with similar experiences.
Through the Mentor Collective, University College students will now have ongoing access to a network of mentors trained to offer guidance and advice. Students will be matched with a personal mentor based on common academic interests, career goals, life challenges, and experiences. Additionally, students can use the platform’s discussion guides and goal-setting activities to help spark meaningful conversations with their counterparts. Topics range from time management and work-life balance to networking and job-seeking advice.
“Mentors serve as “expert students” who share their experiences, help set goals, and serve as resources for questions about life as a University College student. For added support, Mentor Collective offers over 45 conversation guides on topics ranging from developing a growth mindset to setting career goals,” says Elisa Wang, academic advisor and Student Services coordinator at University College. “Having a mentor has been identified as a key predictor of success in school and beyond."
This program is tailored to meet our students’ unique needs as working adults by matching them with mentors who also balanced school, family, and job responsibilities.”
The launch of the Mentor Collective at University College was motivated by recent research which shows that mentorship is an effective tool to increase graduation rates and improve academic performance.
Aside from boosting academic success, this mentoring program encourages University College students to view themselves as valued members of the campus community. A recent study found that adult learners interact less with peers and faculty on campus and perceive their institutions as less supportive overall compared to their traditional-aged counterparts. These attitudes and behaviors have a significant impact on student success, and the Mentor Collective program aims to help remedy them.
Gaining better insights into the needs and goals of University College students was also an important motivator for Mark Rollins, PhD, dean of University College, in his decision to back the program.
“We know that in the next ten years, employers will increasingly want to hire only people with at least some college experience, if not a degree. Yet there will still be many millions of people in the U.S. who have not been able to get what the future workforce needs. So I believe that it is our responsibility, not only to give adult learners the opportunity to get the education they need, but also to help them succeed in getting it. To do that, we need to know more about how best to provide that help,” says Rollins.
“The beauty of the Mentor Collective program is that it allows us to begin supporting student success now (using guidelines from similar efforts at more than fifty universities and colleges) and as we do that, acquire data about the students that we serve, so as to craft a version of online, tech-based mentoring that works best for them.”
The Mentor Collective at University College is actively enrolling students and mentors for the 2018-19 school year. If you’re interested in learning more about the Mentor Collective program at University College, visit our Mentor Collective program or contact Elisa Wang at firstname.lastname@example.org.