Building Lasting Connections: 6 Key Benefits of a Peer Mentor Program
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6 min read
July 8, 2024

Building Lasting Connections: 6 Key Benefits of a Peer Mentor Program

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Your campus is booming with connection opportunities for your students. And if you haven’t considered adding a peer mentor program to your list of offerings, it’s time you reconsider. 

Your students can learn so much from their classmates. Plus, connecting with like-minded peers can keep them motivated to finish their studies (and keep your retention and graduation rates up!). 

Let’s look at what a peer mentor program is and uncover six ways it can benefit your students.

What is a Peer Mentor Program?

In a traditional mentor program, a mentor farther along in their career typically offers guidance and advice to a mentee just starting. A peer mentor program works in the same way. However, in the context of campus programs, the mentor is another student who is closer in age and experience to the mentee. 

Peer mentors are often advanced students, such as juniors and seniors, who are tasked with helping freshmen smoothly transition into college life. If you don’t have a peer mentor program on campus, here are six benefits to consider.

6 Benefits of Peer Mentor Programs on Campus

1. Combat the “Summer Melt” 

The summer melt is a genuine phenomenon that colleges and universities should worry about. The term describes the phenomenon of accepted students changing their minds about attending campus between the time they were accepted and the fall semester beginning in August or September.

Research shows that nearly 73% of accepted students change their minds before the fall semester begins. This is a staggeringly high number, but it can be significantly reduced through the help of a peer mentor program. Accepted students who participate in a peer mentor program before the start of their first semester change their minds only 47% of the time.

Peer mentors can help calm accepted students’ nerves and guide and assist those who need it. Plus, they can be the mentee’s first on-campus friend, making it easier to transition into college life.

2. Support Academic Experiences and Success

Peer mentors are also great teachers and tutors. By working together, mentors and mentees can draw from each other’s experiences to better understand their college materials and coursework. This could be like studying together for shared courses or conducting student-led tutoring sessions to nail the basics of prerequisite courses. 

Supported students often achieve higher academic success, which helps keep them motivated to continue their studies on campus– meaning, your student retention numbers will increase, too!

3. Support Student Mental Health 

College can be challenging for students in more ways than one. And unfortunately, this can lead to feelings of isolation, loneliness, increased stress, and mental health crises. 

Inviting students to participate in a peer mentor program is just one way to help combat the effects students feel on their mental health. Sometimes, students struggle with mental health challenges simply because they’re unaware of coping mechanisms or stress-relieving techniques. 

This is where peer mentors can step in. Peer mentors can offer to teach coping skills to their mentees. They might also host stress-free activities like color page hours, yoga sessions, or paint parties. 

Pro tip: Use Cadence’s SMS texting capabilities to remind students about planned stress-relieving activities. 

4. Build a Supportive, Connected Community 

It’s no secret: engaged students are more likely to complete their degree programs than students who are not connected with their on-campus community. According to research from The Ohio State University, involved students are 2.6x more likely to feel like they’re part of the community. 

Peer mentor programs are fantastic ways to get (and keep!) students involved on campus and engaged with their peers. These kinds of programs help create and promote community on campus while also providing students with opportunities to connect with others in different degree programs— and these connections could be important later on in their careers! 

5. Develop Leadership Skills and Personal Growth

Peer mentorship programs don’t just benefit the mentee. Mentor students have much to gain from these kinds of programs, too.

If you think of college as a stepping stone for your students to obtain their dream careers, you’ll want to provide rich experiences and opportunities to help better prepare them for their next steps. And, a peer mentor program can help do that by providing your mentor students with an opportunity to work on their personal development and strengthen their leadership skills. 

These two things, a sense of continued personal growth and strong leadership skills, are often qualities that employers look for in their potential employees. So, by participating in these kinds of programs, your students are setting themselves up for future success in their careers. Plus, according to The Ohio University, students who are engaged on campus are 18% more likely to be career-ready than their peers.

6. Promote Diversity and Inclusion

In the corporate world, diversity and inclusion initiatives are often a result of employee resource groups (ERGs). ERGs, employee-led groups, function both as mentorship programs and safe, inclusive spaces for all employees. 

It’s helpful to think of on-campus peer mentor programs in the same vein as ERGs. Peer mentor programs, like ERGs, can be safe, inclusive places for students. And, they can bring about important changes and DEI initiatives that help all students feel welcomed on campus. Plus, they give students a taste of corporate culture, which can prepare them to be active, inclusive leaders in their future employer’s ERGs. 

Empowering Students Through a Peer Mentor Program

There are a ton of benefits of participating in a peer mentor program– not just for new students coming on to campus but also for established students who are looking to strengthen their soft skills. Launching a peer mentor program on your campus can help increase your retention and graduation rates, too. So, they’re a win-win for everyone!
Help your students stay connected and in the loop with Cadence. Use Cadence to send targeted messages to remind students about on-campus activities, mentor meetings, or mentor application deadlines. If you’re ready to learn how Cadence can benefit your campus in other ways (not just targeted messaging!), schedule a demo with our team today.