UC Answers: Why is mentorship key to college success?

UC Blue Ash College has created a mentorship program specifically for first-year CPS students

Alice Hicks, Ed.D, is a success coach for the CPS Success Coaching program at UCBA, and she is passionate about helping Cincinnati Public Schools students, especially first-generation college students, reach their goals.

Video link: https://www.youtube.com/embed/webSMVtznsc?rel=0

Why do you think mentorship is so important?

I find that it is most important to recent high school graduates, as many of them may be first-generation college students whose parents did not go to college. In a lot of cases, some of these students are the first in their families to go to college. Many students do not know the lingo of college, which is a different world than what they know. Having a mentor to whom students can connect who has the skills and knowledge to help them navigate their new experience and provide support to them is pivotal to student success.

What do you do as a success coach at UCBA to help students toward success?  

As a success coach, my role is to serve as mentor to first-year students who are recent graduates of Cincinnati Public Schools. My role is to help students understand the lingo, the processes, the systems and the culture to connect them with the proper resources, navigate financial aid and provide them with the tools they need to succeed during their first year of college.

Why did you get involved? 

Being a former first-generation college student myself, I returned to UC to follow my passion of working with students who remind me of an earlier version of myself. They have the ability to succeed but need someone to steer them in the right direction and help keep them on task.

What is most rewarding about helping students achieve their goals?

I love being able to execute my knowledge to help students troubleshoot and solve their problems and provide them with knowledge so that they can make informed decisions about their academics. For me it is about empowering students to think critically about the challenges they face so they can climb the ladder of success confidently.

Can you share a student's story that illustrates success?

One success story that immediately comes to my mind is a student who at first was resistant to success coaching. They felt that they could survive the first year of college on their own. The student was adamant that instead of participating in success coaching, it made more sense for them to use that precious time studying and preparing for their classes. I outlined in an email to the student the benefits of participating in the Success Coaching Program and encouraged the student to begin with attending one workshop.

The student came to the first workshop and ended up becoming a model participant. The student only missed one session due to attending a family funeral. The student’s sibling was also involved in success coaching. They served as swim buddies to each other. They took classes together, studied together and even attended their 1:1 monthly meeting(s) together. They both made the honor roll last fall and continue to excel. They continue to reach out to me from time to time when they need help walking through processes.

What would you say to students who may be hesitant to enroll at UC because they fear they may not be successful academically?  

I would tell them about the resources that are available to students to promote their academic success such as the "help labs" including the study skills labs, math and accounting labs, English labs and the science labs. I would tell them about the positive, patient and persistent success coaches who are assigned to work with them and are committed to promoting their academic and personal success. 

I would tell them about the caring, committed and competent faculty who teach our classes who are also committed to their academic success. For students who are afraid to enroll at UC because they are fearful of failing, I would encourage them to identify and choose a team of what we call "swim buddies" to aid in their success. Swim buddies are friends, family and coworkers who they can rely on to form a "current" around them to ensure that they are heading in the right direction. 

I would encourage students to get connected within the university and join a student organization because research shows that students who get involved in co-curricular activities are more likely to succeed. 

Featured image at top shows Alice Hicks from UC Blue Ash, who is a CPS Success Coach. Photo/Lisa Ventre/UC Creative + Brand

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Learn more about the CPS Success Coaching program at UCBA.