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Mentoring Students in Schools

by Kori Morgan, studioD

Values, work ethic, self-esteem and future goals are all things that adult role models can instill in youth. However, many students don't have an adult in their lives who can provide this relationship. Mentoring provides a supportive connection that can help students in need of role models to find direction. Although organized mentoring often occurs in the community, many schools bring volunteers directly onto the academic campus. School-based mentoring, in spite of some drawbacks, makes a generally positive impact on students in need.


Unlike community-based mentoring, school-based mentoring occurs only on the academic campus, allowing mentors to engage with students in classes and activities. According to the academic mentorship organization Education Northwest, partnerships grow and develop over the course of a nine-month school year, though research has found that these programs work best when they continue into the summer. While the campus-centric meetings might imply a heavy emphasis on tutoring, mentorships are meant to build trust and mutual interests around school-related activities. (See Reference 1)


The National Mentoring Partnership reports that school-based mentoring lets faculty who know the students be directly involved with matching them with mentors. While adults from the community often get involved, one benefit of school programs is that they also allow high school and college students to work with elementary and middle school students, forming a cooperative environment among the school district. Although the mentorship's focus can be broader than simply academic assistance, the school environment can improve student participation and learning, giving them incentive to come to school regularly and encouragement to succeed. (See Reference 2)


Compared to community mentoring, school-based mentoring has several limitations. The National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance reports that school mentorships are often less developed; one school year has been viewed as an insufficient amount of time to build a lasting, trusting relationship, especially when mentoring is integrated with regular classwork. (See Reference 3) The National Mentoring Partnership also states that peer interactions can inhibit the relationship's growth. Although seeing the student interact with his peers can give mentors an idea of his social skills, it can also limit the depth of discussions and activities between the mentor and student. (See Reference 2)

Research Findings

While overall research on school-based programs is based on relatively weak models, numerous studies have shown that school-based mentor programs have potential to help improve academic performance, behavior and school attendance. (See Reference 3) Education Northwest reports that mentored students handed in more assignments with higher quality work and increased their self-confidence in academic ability. The programs have also shown evidence of improving social skills and behavior, with less instances of fighting and disciplinary action, as well as a more positive school environment. (See Reference 1)

About the Author

Kori Morgan holds a Bachelor of Arts in professional writing and a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing and has been crafting online and print educational materials since 2006. She taught creative writing and composition at West Virginia University and the University of Akron and her fiction, poetry and essays have appeared in numerous literary journals.

Photo Credits

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