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Mentor programs such as SEEK will help decrease dropout rates


Colleges hope to always achieve high graduation rates. However, this can sometimes be a difficult task for students who come from low-income families. They might have to balance classes with jobs, or they might be the first in their families to even attend college.

The goal of the event was to “provide students, faculty, and staff with an introduction to the LGBTQ+ community, to sort of bring about some more awareness in the hopes that they can make Baruch and their individual lives more inclusive,” explained
Supervising Psychologist Gary Dillon. 

After a preliminary overview and training, attendees enjoyed refreshments as they played “Privileges for Sale,” an activity created by SZP that helps participants understand and evaluate the concept of privilege by conceptualizing common privileges as commodities.

For the activity, attendees were broken into several groups and given imaginary budgets. Some budgets were higher than others. The groups then received a list of privileges, which each “costed” $100, and had to decide which privileges were more worth purchasing than others. 

Some privileges included adopting children, sponsoring a partner for citizenship and paid leave from work when grieving the death of a partner.

“Many students from low-income families described having to learn and decode a whole new set of cues and terms like professors’ ‘office hours,’ (many didn’t know what they were or how to use them), and foreign rituals like being invited to get coffee with an instructor,” Anthony Abraham Jack, a professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, recalled his time as a low-income college student in The New York Times magazine

Also, as a first-generation student, he had to juggle school and four jobs because he needed the money. 

A growing number of students are struggling to find time to study while working full time. “Students who work full time are unable to cope with school stress and homework pressure,” Baruch College undergraduate student Gurpreet Kaur said. 

If no one cares whether students are staying on the right track or not, students who are exhausted from labor would feel the urge to drop out of school. 

This is a sad reality, people start college in the hopes of earning a degree that will bring them a variety of possibilities. 

However, reality can crush the dreams of CUNY college students. Seo Young Lee, an undergraduate at City College, said, “In order to solve our school dropout problem, we should foster mentoring programs for students.”

Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, a non-profit organization, has helped children realize their full potential through one-on-one mentoring relationships. 

After 18 months of spending time with their mentors, according to the Public and Private Ventures study conducted in 1995, children were 52% less likely to skip school and 37% less likely to skip a class. 

The goal of the SEEK program at Baruch is to equip students with the tools needed for success. 

Through individual counseling, SEEK students are assigned with counselors who will guide them through a number of aspects of college life. 

The program, designed to help students who are economically disadvantaged and academically unprepared, is an invaluable asset to CUNY. 

The greatest benefit is that students can develop one-on-one supportive relationships with their mentors throughout the year. 

However, it has its limitations as students must be a legal resident of New York State for at least one year prior to entering college and be a first-time freshman, or previously enrolled in a HEOP or EOP program to apply to the program. It is time to make sure that we shift our attention to students struggling to earn a degree, among other things.

Making mentoring programs accessible to more students is key to solving this long-standing issue of college dropouts.

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