Mentoring and education go hand in hand. This October, we will be sharing stories that highlight the power of mentoring to support students at-risk of falling off track and encourage them to enroll in college. This article shows how the continued support of a mentor is invaluable to students in college and can help them find the resolve to graduate.
According to The Mentoring Effect, mentoring relationships have a strong impact on young people’s postsecondary aspirations and achievement. The Indiana Mentoring Partnership (IMP), a program of the Indiana Youth Institute, has witnessed this kind of impact firsthand. IMP worked with the Indiana Commission for Higher Education (ICHE) to launch the five-year Indiana College Success Mentoring program, which paired high schools and mentoring organizations together from 2010-2015 in support of Indiana’s Evan Bayh 21st Century Scholars. The 21st Century Scholars, who are from low-income families, were matched with mentors who followed them through high school and into postsecondary education. For the high school class of 2012, 57 percent of mentored Scholars were enrolled in postsecondary education in 2015.
David Jones was one of those students. Throughout high school and college, Jones had a mentor in college graduate Courtney Crawley. Jones said Crawley’s greatest influence was giving him confidence to believe in himself and encouraging him to stay strong when college life became difficult.
“Courtney always uses the term, ‘put up or shut up,’” Jones explained. During sophomore year, Jones was ill and fell behind at school. “Courtney gave me the ‘put up or shut up’ speech,” said Jones. Crawley recalled: “He was second guessing himself and was worried about his illness, but I knew he could be successful if he just pushed a little harder.”
After graduating from a charter high school with just 27 other students, Jones said Ball State University “was a culture shock to me.” He explained: “Having reassurance from a mentor like Courtney, who [was] a great resource, help[ed] me with my stress.”
Now 22 years old, Jones graduated with a dual degree in journalism and telecommunications from Ball State in May 2016 and recently began his career as a sports editor for The Paper of Montgomery County in Crawfordsville, Indiana. He and Crawley continue to demonstrate the lifelong power of a mentoring relationship. “I could text Mr. Courtney about anything and he always knows what to say.” Jones says. “My mother always said that you have ten fingers that represent the number of people you can count on in a lifetime—Mr. Courtney is on my first hand.”
Crawley echoes the sentiment, “I signed up to mentor him while he was in school. Little did he know when I signed up, I had no expiration date and he is stuck with me. I’m here for him and that’s never going to change…Having a college student depending on you to give advice and talk about difficult situations makes you step up.”
IMP also continues its support of mentoring programming to and through postsecondary education with several tools, including:
Through these resources and many others, the Indiana Youth Institute and the Indiana Mentoring Partnership are bringing together a statewide network of educators, community leaders, service providers, and families, increasing their capacity to use mentoring as a valuable tool for preparing students for life after high school.
9 million young people in America are in need of a trusted adult in their lives to guide them in moments big and small. Join the In Real Life movement and become an advocate, make a donation or become a volunteer.