Since 1997, Temple’s College of Liberal Arts has had a mentoring program to help incoming students make the transition to college.
The mentoring program, proposed as a pilot project in 1997, began with 21 students. All but six stayed for their sophomore year, paving the way for this pilot project to become a permanent fixture in the college.
Although CLA also assigns mentors to transfer students, the program primarily targets freshmen. “Freshman year is the most vulnerable year, so the focus has to be on retaining freshmen,” said Cathy Hence, Director of Mentoring for CLA.
Statistics back up Hence’s statement; 30 percent of all freshmen nationwide drop out of college compared to only 10 percent of all college sophomores. Mentors offer freshmen much needed support and help.
“Students think that they are here by themselves and that they cannot seek guidance,” Hence said. “The truth is that we all need people. Sadly, some don’t realize this until it’s too late.”
Besides traditional face-to-face mentoring, CLA’s mentoring program offers online mentoring, where mentor and student exchange e-mail. A website for this online program is currently in the works, with plans to have it up and running by early next semester.
Hence hopes to eventually expand Temple’s mentoring program to include ninth graders from Benjamin Franklin High School.
There is a high dropout rate among freshmen nation-wide, “So many ninth graders need mentors to support them and to keep them focused. Also, they need help in exploring colleges and career options,” Hence said.
To accompany the mentoring program, CLA has launched a residence hall-mentoring program. Participating freshman who have not declared a major agree to live on a designated floor in Peabody Hall. All participants take the Undecided Students Freshman Seminar for the College of Liberal Arts, and each student receives a mentor to guide him or her to eventually choose a major.
CLA has also initiated “At Home with College of Liberal Arts.” This program has two main events. The first event is “The Professor’s Table,” students have dinner with various professors from CLA in the Johnson-Hardwick Dining Room and discuss various issues, topics, and interests.
The second is “Movie Night,” when professors show students thought- provoking movies and encourage conversation about these films.
“This program helps humanize professors to students by allowing them to see their professors outside of the classroom,” said Jayne Drake, Professor of English and Director of Academic Advising in the College of Liberal Arts.
The CLA believes that a strong liberal arts education is very important in a student’s life.
“Most business schools want liberal arts majors because the skills they obtain, including the ability to speak clearly, write effectively, and think critically and analytically are strongly valued,” Drake said.