Both hierarchical and peer mentoring have been shown to positively impact traditional indicators of college student success, such as average GPA, credits earned, and retention (Campbell & Campbell, 2007, pp. 137, 143; Colvin & Ashman, 2010, p. 128). In addition, researchers have established that both approaches facilitate new students’ adjustment to campus (Pascarella & Terenzini, 2005; Ruthkosky & Castano, 2007) and increase students’ satisfaction with their universities (Tenenbaum, Crosby, & Gliner, 2001, p. 326; Ferrari, 2004, p. 303).
A growing literature in higher education discusses the potential benefits of integrating alumni more closely within the university community. These benefits include access to resources through philanthropy or industry collaboration, marketing and promotion of the university, and alumni’s potential to help students to support graduate employability (Ebert, Axelsson, & Harbor, 2015; Heckman & Guskey, 1998; Pearson, 1999).
Within alumni mentoring programs, there are two distinct streams that are aimed at different audiences. One stream is aimed at helping disadvantaged groups, such as first-in-family and/or students who may be on particular equity-related scholarships (e.g., Boardman, 2003; Colvin & Jaffar, 2007).
The second stream of alumni mentoring programs, an increasingly key institutional strategy, is connecting highly engaged/high-achieving students with industry partners. These programs often include an application process and have the additional bonus of connecting highly talented students with affiliated businesses and/or organizations.
The findings on alumni mentoring programs have been largely positive, particularly for student outcomes. Studies, for example, have found that student participants in professional/alumni mentoring programs are more likely to graduate with a job and have higher levels of satisfaction with their university experience than students who did not participate.
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