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Tuesday, November 22, 2005
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Emerging Scholars Program utilizes peer mentoring approach

CHILLICOTHE, Ohio (Feb. 26, 2007) -- Ohio University Chillicothe has launched the Emerging Scholars Program as a pilot program during winter quarter to help new students become well-adjusted members of the campus community. 

The peer-mentoring program relies on the insights and counsel of fellow students to help incoming students navigate the early part of their college careers. Advanced students act as mentors for freshmen, providing academic and social support, with the goal of improving students' academic performances and retention rates.

The program, which is designed by a committee consisting of Chillicothe campus faculty, staff, administrators and former students, is supervised by Assistant Professor of Psychology Ann Rumble, with graduate assistant Joe Barker on the point for seeing through its implementation. Much of its focus is on easing the transition of first-generation college students.

"College can be daunting, especially to first-generation students. While they may be hesitant to contact a faculty member with concerns, fellow students are much more approachable and speak the same language," Rumble said. "OU-C's student population is very diverse, and it is helpful if new students have someone who can understand their unique concerns, whether it be a students straight out of high school or a spouse with family responsibilities."

"An anticipated outcome of this program is to create an even greater sense of community on campus and improve the overall college experience for everyone involved including the students serving as mentors," Rumble said. "In these types of programs, the mentors reap several benefits, including preparation for careers and graduate school."

Efforts are made to pair mentors with incoming students of the same gender, age range and academic discipline.

The program's effectiveness will be measured in terms of retention rate, academic improvement and the students' perceptions of OU-C.

"It is important to ensure as best we can that new students have a positive experience at OU-C and form a favorable impression of the campus," Rumble said. "These new students can be some of the campus' best ambassadors and assist with recruiting efforts when they talk with their friends and family members."

The program initially has 10 mentors helping 15 new students. The mentors, who are all junior and senior students, were chosen based on faculty and staff recommendations. The new students expressed an interest in being involved in the mentoring program. The program is contained in size initially so that the wrinkles can be worked out and adjustments made.

Mentors spend one to two hours a week with their protégés. Mentors must have a grade-point average of at least 3.0 and have completed at least 40 hours of coursework. They go through a training program before beginning the program. 

While a pilot program this quarter, it is hopeful that the program will expand and continue.

The program furthers OU-C's implementation of goals and values outlined in the Vision OHIO strategic plan. Vision OHIO lists mentoring as a key value to enhancing the educational experience and notes that learning comes from the total college experience, not just learning in the classroom.

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