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At some point, everyone – whether we recognize it at the time or not – needs a mentor. Someone who shepherds us through a rough patch or guides us as we grow personally, academically and professionally. 

First-semester students especially need this mentoring when they begin to struggle academically. College 101, an Academic Advising program, is designed to help those who receive less than a 2.0 their first semester. These students are matched with faculty and staff mentors and asked to meet over the course of the spring semester for one-on-one support, with a goal for the student to achieve “academic good standing” by the end of the spring semester. 

Angela Thompson, executive director of Academic Advising, leads the program, which is now seeking faculty and staff mentors for the spring.  

“This fall we welcomed an incredibly strong and talented incoming class,” she said. “But for those students struggling academically and whose performance will result in being on academic warning or probation, the College 101 program provides them mentoring, support and assistance.” 

On average, about 100 mentors are needed to help students; some may be transfer students or first generation for whom the college experience can be overwhelming.  

“The first thing mentors will do is to help students find out how they got to this point and encourage them to come up with a plan,” Thompson said. “Sometimes incoming first-year students may have missed class and they’re embarrassed to go back. Mentors can help them see why they need to talk to those professors and know what to do if they miss a class. Sometimes it’s as simple as a student not knowing who or what to ask, so mentors can be that resource.” 

Mentors receive a 90-minute training session, either online or in person, that provides tools and resources, including the academic calendar, plus tips on basics, like how to start the conversation. During the spring semester, mentors and students should commit to meeting in person at least six times.  

At the end of the semester, the mentor is asked to evaluate the student’s performance. This evaluation is used by the associate dean of the student’s college to determine the student’s path going forward.  

The program is truly a partnership involving other resources across campus, including Residential Life, Student Success, academic advisors and more, Thompson added. 

Following the pandemic, she recognized there might be opportunities to refresh the program. A mentor survey provided feedback that she used to make tweaks.  

Following a survey of participating mentors, mentors are also now provided an array of online resources that they can access directly to help their students. 

“We’re basically filling in some gaps to help mentors provide the support students need,” Thompson noted. “We are adding resources and more steps into the training. We want mentors and students to know that the system is set up for everyone to be successful.” 

The mentor program is open to all faculty and staff – anyone who has a passion to serve.  

“It’s a very rewarding experience that provides an opportunity to connect with students outside the classroom and, more importantly, help them continue to be part of the TCU community,” Thompson added. 

In surveys, students who have participated in the College 101 program listed mentoring as the most valuable component, she said, noting some students and their mentors still work together even after academic success. 

For more information, contact Angela Thompson 

Working as a College 101 mentor has been very rewarding. I think it was helpful for the students that I mentored to have someone, who was not a parent or a professor, provide guidance to help them bring their grades back up. One of the students I mentored reached out to me a few years after she graduated. She was about to apply for a graduate program, and she wanted me to know how appreciative she was that she had a second chance through the College 101 program. She said that having me as her mentor made all the difference. She ended up changing her major and graduated in very good standing. I was thrilled to hear that my small amount of input ended up having such a huge impact on her academic career and future.  

-Tracy Hull 
Dean, Mary Couts Burnett Library 

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