Attending college is a life-changing event for new students. As a way to help integrate new students, the University of Wisconsin-Stout offers MentorLink, a mentoring program between upperclassmen and freshmen.
Aaron Aure, the Executive Director of Enrollment and Retention Services at UW-Stout, established MentorLink. Darren Ward, a first-year advisor at the Advisement Center, works as the MentorLink coordinator. Both Ward and Aure manage the program.
Ward believes that MentorLink has been a success this year. Around 835 first-year students have been matched with mentors. This is about fifty-five percent of freshmen. There are over 300 upper-class mentors. 2,509 conversations have occurred on the Mentor Collective dashboard. Approximately 9,500 text messages have been exchanged between freshmen and their mentors.
According to Ward, an incoming freshman can choose to be paired with an upperclassman to serve as their mentor. The duties of a mentor include answering questions and providing freshmen with campus connections.
Mentors are recruited through email. “Additionally, upper-class sophomore, junior and senior students in some of Stout’s service-related majors were shoulder-tapped to become mentors,” said Ward.
During first year registration and orientation, incoming freshmen are taught about the program. Upon learning about the program, they may opt to sign up. New freshmen are paired with their mentors before the fall semester.
“The goals of [MentorLink] are to help ease the transition from high school to college and provide first-year students with a trusted advocate and friend in an upper-class mentor,” Ward said.
MentorLink also works with a third-party vendor, Mentor Collective. This is a company that works to offer quality mentorship for students.
Ward said that the program was started in Fall 2018 and was offered to half of the incoming freshmen. “After reviewing the outcomes of the program, the decision was made to roll the program out to the entire incoming class for Fall 2019,” said Ward.