Program seeking student mentors: 25 adults needed to aid in college planning process

With the goal of improving college graduation rates, Franklin Community High School is starting a new mentorship program for first-generation college students and is looking for adults who want to help.

The program, called First Scholars, needs about 25 adults in multiple career fields who are willing to serve as role models, give advice about the students’ future and assist in the college admissions process for the next four years.

More than 100 students expressed interest in the program, and after applications and an interview process, the inaugural class was narrowed to 25.

Navigating the admissions and enrollment process for college can be challenging. Without a support system, even the most talented students often do not enroll in college, said Ryan Waggoner, an associate with Ice Miller who spearheaded the program.

“It doesn’t matter how smart you are or how hard you’re willing to work, if you don’t have someone to prepare you and give you the lay of the land, you aren’t going to last too long,” Waggoner said.

“We’ve seen too many qualified kids not succeed in college.

“The program is needed to bridge the gap between the potential to succeed and actual achievement.”

Starting in the fall, students will be paired with a mentor. Mentors will represent a wide range of professions, from lawyers to doctors, in hopes of matching them with a student based on career interest.

The group of mentors and students will meet once a month.

The mentor will help students navigate through the college planning and admission process. Waggoner said he hopes to expand the program to include other benefits including college visits, panels with college students and detailed strategies on how to pay for college.

Although the time commitment is just one day a month, mentors will be encouraged to contact their student a few times throughout the weeks, Waggoner said.

“By connecting students with a mentor, someone who cares and who understands what it is like to be the first to navigate the college process, our hope is that we can provide a real service to students and their families,” Waggoner said.

“It’s a good way to pay it forward and help the next generation of students succeed.”

At a glance

Here is a look at how to become a mentor:

1. Have a desire to help high school students in the community

2. Be willing to attend a one-hour meeting each month

3. Contact Ryan Waggoner at Ryan.Waggoner@icemiller.com by July 1.