Benefit of a mentor: Disadvantaged teens twice as likely to attend college

Nov 04, 2009
Denise Daniels, a math teacher at Spanish Fork High School in Utah, mentors a student during an after-school math lab. A new Brigham Young University study shows teacher-mentors greatly increase students' chances of going to college. Credit: Mark Philbrick/BYU

Adult mentors give teens a 50 percent greater likelihood of attending college.Mentorship by a teacher nearly doubles the odds of attending college for disadvantaged students.The students who need mentors the most are the least likely to have them.

Two findings from a new national study reveal the power of mentors, particularly those in the teaching profession:

  • For all teen students, having an adult mentor meant a 50 percent greater likelihood of attending college.
  • For disadvantaged students, mentorship by a teacher nearly doubled the odds of attending college.

"Potential is sometimes squashed by the social environment, and the data show that mentors can overcome those forces," said Lance Erickson, a sociology professor at Brigham Young University and the study's lead author.

The research will appear next week inthe academic journal Sociology of . Study coauthor Steve McDonald, a sociologist at North Carolina State University, notes a harsh paradox evident in the numbers.

"Youth who are most likely to need mentors are least likely to have them," McDonald said.

Their research shows less than half of disadvantaged students report having any adult mentor. Only seven percent had a mentoring relationship with a teacher.

The data includes information from more than 14,000 adolescents who participated in the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health.

In the statistical analysis, mentors proved pivotal in whether students make the jump to college. For example, students whose parents do not have even a high school degree are normally 35 percent likely to enroll in college. According to the study, the rate jumps to 66 percent when the youth considers one of their teachers to be a personal mentor.

"Teacher-mentors close the gap for disadvantaged kids," Erickson said.

The authors point out that much needs to be done to help disadvantaged youth connect to the adults, especially teachers, in their lives.

"Comments from study participants indicate that their mentors weren't necessarily doing anything extraordinary, just being involved and treating the young person as an important human being," Erickson said.

Source: Brigham Young University (news : web)

Explore further: Election surprises tend to erode trust in government

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Robots compete this week at Purdue

Mar 13, 2006

Purdue University says it will host a group of college and high school students this week in a competition of robotic inventions.

Teaching the Teachers

Oct 15, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- Research experiences for science teachers can have a direct impact on the achievement of their students, increasing their performance significantly on state assessments. There are also economic ...

Recommended for you

Affirmative action elicits bias in pro-equality Caucasians

40 minutes ago

New research from Simon Fraser University's Beedie School of Business indicates that bias towards the effects of affirmative action exists in not only people opposed to it, but also in those who strongly endorse equality.

Election surprises tend to erode trust in government

20 hours ago

When asked who is going to win an election, people tend to predict their own candidate will come out on top. When that doesn't happen, according to a new study from the University of Georgia, these "surprised losers" often ...

Awarded a Pell Grant? Better double-check

Jul 23, 2014

(AP)—Potentially tens of thousands of students awarded a Pell Grant or other need-based federal aid for the coming school year could find it taken away because of a mistake in filling out the form.

User comments : 0