SMCC launches new mentoring program to ensure student success through graduation

SOUTH PORTLAND, Maine — Southern Maine Community College has launched a new mentoring program where students will receive guidance and support via text from other college students as part of SMCC’s commitment to student success.

The program is offered in partnership with Let’s Get Ready (LGR), a nonprofit organization that provides support with its near-peer coaching model to high school and college students to help them enter and succeed in college. The goal at SMCC is to help students successfully continue their education through graduation.

“SMCC is committed to helping students reach their full potential,” said Barb Conner, SMCC’s Dean of Students. “This mentoring program provides our students guidance from other college students who understand the challenges of college.  This is an investment in our students, and we are confident it will reap big dividends in contributing to their success.”

The program, which will be available to more than 2,000 SMCC students, aims to augment the support students already receive to help them navigate the intricacies of college life and overcome any challenges they may encounter. Most SMCC students under 25 will be invited to participate.

The program offers two levels of support from trained “near-peer” college students, and SMCC students will be able to opt in to the level of support that best meets their needs:

  • Success Core: Students receive a weekly text with important tips, strategies and resources to support them in meeting deadlines and identifying and addressing challenges early. Students also receive text support around overcoming the most common academic, social and financial barriers to persistence. These texts are sent through a two-way texting platform that assures students receive timely responses from a near-peer with support from LGR staff.
  • Success Core+: Students are assigned a dedicated near-peer coach who supports them virtually through a rigorous scope and sequence of content and relationship-building activities. Coaches formally and regularly assess the social, academic and financial health of each student and escalate concerns directly to LGR staff for more technical or sensitive intervention.

Let’s Get Ready, which has offices in New York and Boston, provides support services to college and high school students nationwide. Ninety-one percent of the students they serve come from low-income backgrounds and/or are the first in their family to go to college. According to data collected by Let’s Get Ready, college students who participate in its support programs graduate at double the rate of students from similar backgrounds who don’t participate.

“Let’s Get Ready has been supporting students in Maine since 2011, and we are so excited to be deepening our commitment to the state in partnership with SMCC,” said Jordan Wesley, LGR Managing Director of Partnerships. “We are grateful for the vision of President (Joe) Cassidy, and look forward to seeing our collaboration increase college degree attainment for students who are historically underrepresented in higher education.”

At SMCC, 60% of students are considered low-income and 57% are first-generation college students, meaning neither of their parents have completed a bachelor’s degree, according to the latest statistics available.