Exploring a mentoring program for Latino college freshmen


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Phinney, J. S., Campos, T., Cidhinnia, M., Padilla Kallemeyn, D. M., & Kim, C. (2011). Processes and outcomes of a mentoring program for Latino college freshmen. Journal of Social Issues67(3), 599-621.


Latino youth and young adults are the largest and fastest-growing racial/ethnic population in the United States, but Latino students have lower levels of educational attainment in high school and college compared to African-American and non-Hispanic European-American peers. Mentoring has been employed as an approach to improve academic outcomes in Latino youth. This study was designed to examine the effects of mentoring to on academic and psychosocial outcomes.



In two longitudinal studies, at-risk Latino college freshmen were mentored from fall to spring by upperclassmen or graduate students from Psychology and Counseling majors and compared in the Spring with a sample of nonmentored students. The studies took place at a predominantly minority student, urban university.


Mentored students showed no decline in academic motivation during the school year, while nonmentored students declined. Furthermore, mentored students decreased in both depression and stress during the year, while nonmentored students actually increased in both. Still, both mentees and nonmentees received lower GPAs in the spring than fall, and the drop was greater for mentees.

Conclusion and Implications

This program focused on psychosocial factors rather than on academic assistance, and its effects are shown in decreased depression and stress in mentees as compared to nonmentees. Mentees showed a larger drop in GPA in the spring than nonmentees, though. This may have resulted from mentees being reluctant to discuss poor grades, or even possibly because of the values of the mentors, focusing on listening, encouraging, and empathizing.

Programs may wish to ask mentees to agree to providing mentors with grades on tests and papers on a regular basis, allowing mentors to more closely monitor academic progress and make referrals. In addition, mentors could be recruited from a wider range of departments and matched to mentees by their major, allowing mentors to directly tutor their mentees. This may have a particularly strong benefit for students interested in more technical subjects like science, engineering, and mathematics.

Summarized by Max Wu, UMass Boston clinical psychology student