The 21st Century Scholars program aims to help low-income, at-risk children get a college education so they can break the cycle of poverty. That’s easier said than done.
The Indiana Commission for Higher Education said only about 1 in 10 of the 21st Century Scholars participants graduate on time, and only 3 in 10 earn a degree at all.
The program provides money for college, but there are other stresses. Those students need someone to guide them during these unfamiliar experiences.
A student who is the first member of the family to go to college doesn’t have the support of parental wisdom based on prior experience at school.
Nor does the student necessarily understand what is required and expected of college students.
“These students often need help understanding the level of work that’s needed in a post-secondary environment, the deadlines and the exams and the forms and what office to go to at what time related to registration and paying your bills,” said Indiana Youth President and CEO Bill Stanczykiewicz in a video about the Indiana College Success Mentoring program.
Stanczykiewicz said the institute expects mentors to help students with things like study skills, time management, adjusting to life on campus, financial literacy and accessing campus resources.
College is hard work. It’s not just an extension of high school. Students need to learn study skills. Students often are living on their own for the first time, too, and that requires self-discipline and other traits they might not have developed during high school.
So the mentoring program begins working with students while they’re high school juniors to prepare them for this transition.
Many NIPSCO employees serve as mentors, said Eddie Melton, manager of corporate citizenship and employee involvement.
“We pair the students up with a NIPSCO employee, someone who can motivate them to do well in school and participate in extracurricular activities,” Melton said. “The Urban League also has been active and helped the students with financial aid and transportation issues.”
If you’re able, and appropriately suited to the job, consider becoming a mentor for youths.