UNC Charlotte’s Office of Undergraduate Education, this fall, will implement a new program aimed to increase student retention and sense of belonging. Undeclared undergraduate students at UNC Charlotte will be invited to be matched with an upper-division student through UNC Charlotte’s Niners Mentor Collective, a mentorship program that supports new students’ persistence and social adjustment.
Through a partnership with the organization Mentor Collective, new students who enter UNC Charlotte undeclared will have the opportunity to be paired with a relevant upper-division (sophomore or junior) peer mentor, trained to offer guidance and advice. Students can use the platform’s discussion guides and goal-setting activities to help foster meaningful conversations with their mentor throughout the year.
“Our goal with this mentorship program is to provide academic support for students who are trying to select their major, and also increase social engagement to help them feel they belong,” said Lisa Slattery Walker, associate dean for advising and graduation. “We see these mentors as a guide, someone who should help students think through their decisions, provide resources, and get them what they need during that first year.”
The launch of UNC Charlotte’s Niners Mentor Collective program comes at a time when two recent surveys suggest what is driving student worry and uncertainty for fall 2020: the loss of personal connections that are a hallmark of the college experience. Above all, the Mentor Collective program empowers student voices by recognizing the importance of relationships in a student’s academic journey.
Walker noted that partnering with Mentor Collective was based on the organization’s efficiency, experience and reputation.
“Mentor Collective is a great partner because, not only do they have the expertise on what works and what doesn’t work, they have designed and tested all of their resources and trainings,” said Walker. “Mentor Collective also has the willingness to listen to what we need and to develop a process specific to our student population.”
In addition, amidst the uncertainty that COVID-19 may bring to the higher education landscape in 2020 and 2021, the Mentor Collective program will provide an outlet for students to voice feedback as to how the school can provide ongoing support.
“There’s plenty of research that connection with peers can be really powerful in helping students realize there’s a place for them. We want to continue to be student-focused and do as much as possible to ensure the success of our very diverse student body,” Walker said.
UNC Charlotte’s Niners Mentor Collective is actively enrolling students and mentors for the 2020-21 school year. Email Walker at Lisa.Walker@uncc.edu for more details.