Impacts of peer mentoring at Skyline College – The Skyline View

Impacts of peer mentoring at Skyline College – The Skyline View

Peer mentors serve an important job at Skyline College, as they help students build confidence.

For many students, adapting to college is a difficult process. Workloads increase and expectations are raised. It can be hard to feel like you belong on campus. These feelings of disconnect can result in low grades and even dropping out altogether. 

But that doesn’t have to be the case. Students who receive peer mentoring tend to have higher GPAs and retention rates, according to a recent study “Enhancing Student Outcomes: Peer Mentors and Student Transition,” published in the International Journal of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education.

Researchers found that 92% of first-year students who met with a peer mentor enrolled in the subsequent semester. Furthermore, students who met with a peer mentor had GPAs that were 0.048 points higher on average than students who did not. 

First-generation, first-year college students also benefited from meeting with a peer mentor. 93% enrolled in future semesters and had GPAs that were 0.076 points higher than those of their first-generation peers who did not meet with a peer mentor. 

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According to the study, students who met with a peer mentor felt more connected to their campus and the resources available to them. They were better able to implement skills that would help them succeed.

Skyline College’s Peer Mentor program has seen similar benefits in students who receive peer mentoring, also known as “mentees.” Raymon Gutierrez, the head of the Peer Mentor program, said he sees a lot of growth in the mentees as they learn about on-campus resources.

I see a big thing is their confidence boosts up, whether it’s tech tools or learning how to ask the right questions with professors, knowing how to navigate the online system, and just being more familiarized with campus in general,” said Gutierrez. 

Cyleena Madrid, a first-generation freshman who receives mentoring through the program, said it has helped her adjust to the college environment. Madrid found that being able to meet with someone around her age who could explain different aspects of the college experience made her feel more comfortable and confident as a student.

“Before I had a peer mentor I didn’t know who to go to for this thing, or like this certain thing,” said Madrid. “I feel like having a peer mentor just made it a lot easier for that.”

But the mentees aren’t the only ones who see benefits. Gutierrez said that the confidence and interpersonal skills of mentors grow as they meet with students.

“Oftentimes, students say they are a little bit shy, and in the end, I see them very confident in speaking towards others and making good conversation starters,” said Gutierrez. 

This sentiment is echoed by Gavin Townsley, the supplemental instruction coordinator for The Learning Center (TLC) who works in collaboration with Gutierrez and the Peer Mentor program. 

“It’s pretty common for people who work in the TLC to see that when they first come in, they’re very shy,” said Townsley. “But as they move through tutoring, supplemental instructors, and peer mentoring, they learn a lot of skills and we get to see them come out of their shells and grow a lot.”

Scoutt Kessler, a former Skyline peer mentor who now works as a simulation lab coordinator at Skyline, said that the skills she learned while being a peer mentor help her succeed in her current role.

“I found I was developing my own skills professionally, as well as learning how to just work on my own personal soft skills like public speaking as we would run workshops, facilitating and coordinating for workshops or just with the peer mentors,” said Kessler. “Now, working as a lab coordinator, coordinating is so much of what I do, coordinating with the students and their schedules to be able to use the lab space, as well as the instructors, needing to figure out what student learning outcomes are.” 

Sophomore Nina Win, an international student majoring in business, said that being a peer mentor has helped her learn how to better communicate with others one-on-one and in larger groups. Her favorite part of peer mentoring is when she gets to see her impact on the students.

“Their smiles after they got what they wanted, school resources, or class registration. Their satisfaction makes me really feel good,” said Win. “I helped people.”

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