Niagara University mentorship program focuses on college readiness

Sep 6, 2016

For some high school students, continuing their studies after graduation may seem daunting. But with the launch of its new mentorship program, Niagara University is trying to make the transition to college a little easier.

The university, on Tuesday, announced its "Big Eagle Little Eagle" program, which seeks to help high school students better prepare for college. University Executive Vice President Dr. Debra Colley said one goal is getting students to start thinking about college earlier.

Eric Rigg, a Niagara University graduate student and one of the student leaders behind the new program, spoke at Tuesday's announcement.
Credit Niagara University

“We’re starting early,” Colley said. “We’re going to tap students earlier in their high school career [and] remind them that it is possible. We still have a lot of students in our high schools that are thinking that college is not an option for them, but it is an option for them.”

Colley said graduate student-mentors will be helping high schoolers on a weekly basis at Niagara Falls High School. Those students will also attend on-campus activities throughout the school year.

“The other benefit is that the mentees will get a flavor for what would it be like if I were studying political science, for example, or if I were studying education, because now they are involved in a speaker series or an actual academic activity that is related to those particular program areas,” she added.

A beta version of the program was launched this summer and Colley thinks the full program will build upon its success.

“The Big Eagle Little Eagle program will take it to the next level where we literally tap our own students as mentors to work with young people and give them the experience,” Colley said. “What does it take to go to college? What types of skills? What are some of the exciting things and the academic things that we really need to think about to make that more successful?”

Some of the areas the program aims to help high school students with are developing communication skills, research and debating techniques, and college-readiness.

Colley said the level of interest for the program is so high that some students weren’t able to enroll. She said she hopes to include those students in future rounds of the program.