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Peer mentor program builds on five years of success

2/20/2006 —

Peer mentor program builds on five years of success

First-generation and adult learner college students can increase their chances of academic success when they attend classes with a peer mentor.

Penn State DuBois is now in the sixth year of the peer mentor program, which places a model student in a classroom traditionally offered to first-year students, according to Melissa Coles, advising/counseling specialist, who helps to coordinate the program. The idea, Coles said, help students who may be unfamiliar with the college experience to navigate the system and become assimilated to a college structure.

Student will observe the class peer mentor arrive on time, prepared and ready for the next class, Coles said. The peer mentors will also provide advice to other students on anything from dropping or adding a class or finding a locker to getting involved socially.

Peer mentors must attend training sessions and are compensated for their role, Coles said. The program was originally conceived of in 2000 and has been funded through a grant from the Equal Opportunity Planning Committee at University Park. Since joining the Penn State DuBois staff last fall, Coles will transition to coordinate the program beginning with the fall 2006 semester. To date, Margaret Boman, advising center coordinator, and Debbie Gill, assistant professor of Spanish, have run the program.

This spring, 14 students have been named peer mentors, and they are participating in math, English, Spanish, biology, educational psychology, information sciences and human development classes. Coles said the program’s success is measured in percentage of retained students, a figure which is currently at an impressive 85.7 percent.

Coles is also the coordinator for the Penn State DuBois Learning Center, which provides tutoring assistance, among other services, to students.

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