Elk Valley Times

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Consider being a mentor – our students need you!

Posted on Monday, November 20, 2017 at 3:07 pm

The application deadline to be a mentor in tnAchieves, the partnering organization for Gov. Bill Haslam’s Tennessee Promise, is just two weeks away.

Across the state, 2,500 mentors are needed to work with the record number of Tennessee Promise applicants from the Class of 2018 – nearly 63,000 high school seniors applied to participate in the program. Here in Lincoln County, 56 students have applied, but only 30 of those have mentors thus far. That means 26 more mentors are needed.

TN Promise offers every high school senior the opportunity to attend one of the state’s 13 community colleges or 27 colleges of applied technology tuition free with a last dollar scholarship. The program also pairs each applicant with a volunteer mentor to ease the transition from high school to college.

For many students, this program puts college within reach, regardless of zip code or socio-economic background. Enrollment at the state’s community and technical colleges has increased more than 20 percent, and enrollment at all of the state’s public higher education institutions increased 10 percent, all since the program’s inception.

The scholarship dollars are important and often creates excitement around going to college, but the support of the mentor can be critical to many students’ success. Most of the students participating in the program are first generation college attendees and navigating the admissions and financial aid processes can seem overwhelming.

Mentors spend about one hour per month reminding students of deadlines, serving as a trusted resource, and encouraging students to reach their full potential. The time commitment is small, but the impact can be life changing.

The process is easy. Just go to tnachieves.org/mentors/requirements and complete an application – that’s step one. Step 2 is selecting a preferred high school, and step 3 is attending a one-hour training session. The final step is meeting your student.