See how 3 colleges are using mentorship to help their students understand the value of a Liberal Arts degree.
Despite the increase of students going into STEM, companies are seeking students with liberal arts backgrounds. According to a new report by researchers at Strada Education Network and Emsi, "Human skills help liberal arts grads thrive in many career areas." See how three schools are helping their students understand their value by matching them with someone who was in their shoes.
1. IU Provides Career Support
Quality mentoring is known to positively correlate with a number of institutional outcomes, including retention and sense of belonging. Additionally, providing students with a peer or alumni mentor can also impact on your students’ perceptions of their degrees. Students are more apt to trust a peer or alumni mentor who is able to empathize and encourage them while providing authenticity and validation of your school’s value.
The Paul H. O'Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs at Indiana University, Bloomington (O’Neill School) has two mentorship programs - one for every newly declared students and one for all graduate students. The goal is to offer students more personalized career guidance and connect them to additional resources like financial aid, career services, and academic support. In partnership with Mentor Collective, over 400 graduate and undergraduate students are paired with an experienced alumni mentor for the year to help them understand the value of their degree and how to apply it.
2. CU Denver Offers Pre-Arrival Support & Reduced Melt
The University of Colorado, Denver also chose to use alumni mentors to make an impact, but their focus was primarily on building community and reducing summer melt. At the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (CLAS), each incoming student was paired with a recent alum before they even arrived on campus. Mentors were able to provide social support and foster students’ confidence that they belonged at CU Denver through frequent check-ins.
CU Denver chose mentorship because its effectiveness is backed by considerable research and because it gave them an opportunity to boost alumni engagement with their school community. With the support of the Mentor Collective mentorship program, over 600 first-year students were matched with a mentor. Based on the 1,700 conversations logged during the program, students felt prepared to start their academic careers, which contributed to a 77% lower summer melt rate of those students with a mentor.
3. UW Educates K-12 Students on the Benefits of a Liberal Arts Education
The University of Washington, College of Arts & Sciences (CAS) recognized the decline in Arts & Sciences over the last ten years and addressed the challenge from a different angle - they started educating K-12 students on the benefits of a liberal arts education. Now, once students enroll at CAS, they are given access to a variety of courses across disciplines before finalizing their choice of major.
Then, when the students arrive on campus, CAS offers them the Center for 21st Century Liberal Learning. The center offers intentionally designed programs that emphasize immersive learning experiences, partnerships within the community to develop work experience, and a network of mentors to guide students and prepare them for a career after college.