After celebrating a successful first year, IU South Bend’s peer mentor program, Titans Mentoring Titans, is looking to expand with new mentors, as many as possible.
Involvement in Titans Mentoring Titans benefits mentors just as much as mentees. As the program’s sponsor, Mentor Collective, provides mentors with information regarding networking and how to market their newly acquired mentoring skills. Mentors have the opportunity to see how the program is developing their skills, which prepares them for life after college.
The Titans Mentoring Titans program has been operating for almost a year, as it launched in May 2020. Regarding the 2020-2021 academic year, Titans Mentoring Titans matched 436 mentees with 190 mentors.
The program is open to every first-year freshman as a mentee. The mentor and mentee relationship are facilitated by the university for one year. However, all of the mentees tend to develop a strong bond with their mentors, who typically continue to provide them with guidance and advice long after the facilitated communication by the program stops. If mentees successfully complete their first year of studies, they are invited and encouraged to become mentors.
Titans Mentoring Titans has demonstrated retaining first year students by 2% moving from fall to spring semester. This highlights the program’s role in providing mentees with guidance, attachment to the IU South Bend community, and support during their transition into college. Addressing all of these factors contribute to how Titans Mentoring Titans has proven to be successful in minimizing the number of first year students who discontinue their studies after a semester.
Not only does Titans Mentoring Titans have an impact on the retention of IU South Bend’s first year students, but this program also attracts prospective students. Dr. Lee Kahan, associate dean of College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and chair of Department of Criminal Justice, reports that 10% more freshmen who registered as mentees actually enrolled at IU South Bend than students who did not sign up. This statistic speaks to the appeal of the program to prospective students in their decision to study at IU South Bend, rather than choosing another option.
When prospective mentors register to join the program, they are able to indicate how many mentees they would like to take on. The program’s goal is to have a ratio below three mentees to one mentor.
IU South Bend has a partnership with Mentor Collective to sponsor the Titans Mentoring Titans program. Mentor Collective is referred to as “fantastic” by Dr. Kahan through their adjustment of the program to meet students’ needs. Mentor Collective hosts a national mentoring platform for mentors to communicate with one another. The mentors at IU South Bend are invited to participate in chat rooms with mentors all over the country.
Additionally, Titans Mentoring Titans has a platform designated for communication between mentors at IU South Bend to create a community amongst themselves to share strategies and advice for mentees.
The Titans Mentoring Titans program is very careful regarding their pairing of mentors with mentees according to the mentors and mentees preferences. These preferences are found in a matching survey where mentees communicate the traits they are looking for in a mentor.
“The more mentors we have the greater the diversity of our pool, the better we can match those characteristics.” Dr. Kahan said.
“We estimate and encourage students to spend at least an hour per month communicating. There tend to be high points of communication, especially over the summer and busier points in the semester” Dr. Kahan said.
Additionally, Dr. Kahan reported that 2247 video or phone conversations took place, and mentors and mentees exchanged over 20,000 text messages.
For the upcoming academic year, the program has already had 200 students submit the application to become mentors. To be a mentor or a mentee, all one needs to do is go to the Titans Mentoring Titans program’s website on the Academic Affairs homepage, https://academics.iusb.edu/titans-mentoring-titans/index.html.
Students will see two buttons to register, either as a mentor or a mentee. The registration process only takes a couple of minutes for prospective mentors or mentees to provide information and take a brief matching survey. Additionally, more information for prospective mentors is located on that page.
“I am studying Social Work, a field in which helping others is highly valued. This experience has validated my desire to go into this field. My end goal is to become certified as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) and this one-on-one interaction helps me practice skills such as empathy and reflective listening which will be vital to my future career” Lori Yoder, peer mentor, said.