Margaret Hurlbert
Margaret Hurlbert works as the Editor of Discover Muscatine Newspaper.

Muscatine Living

MUSCATINE, Iowa–Each year, a portion of graduating high school students who planned to pursue a postsecondary education do not do so, “melting” away. In Muscatine County, Aligned Impact Muscatine Director Kim Warren estimates that about 20% of students with postsecondary plans do not follow through with them, amounting to about 100 students melting away each year. To put a freeze on summer melt in Muscatine County, AIM has started a new mentorship program this summer.

Interested in finding out how they could reduce the rate of summer melt, AIM contacted students, families, and school counselors and asked them what would help them continue their education. In many of these conversations, the need for support over the summer came up. Using this feedback, AIM designed their mentorship program and launched it in Muscatine, West Liberty, and Wilton.

Beginning this summer, current seniors, students who just graduated high school, and those a few years out who would like to revisit their postsecondary education options can take advantage of the mentoring program. Through either virtual or in person session, students can work with an AIM volunteer to get help with applying to college or career training programs, exploring career interests, applying for financial aid, or completing Free Student Application for Financial Aid verification, if required. Additionally, AIM has two bilingual mentors who can work with students or families who prefer to speak Spanish

AIM welcomes any students interested in working with a mentor this summer to sign up online. Using this short form, students can select a mentor they would like to work with at a of their choice (either Muscatine Community College, Muscatine High School, West Liberty High School, or Wilton Junior-Senior High School) and select a meeting time that works for them. Students may also bring up to two guests with them, such as parents, if they wish.

AIM’s summer mentoring kicked off June 1 and will continue throughout the summer. As the program begins its work in the community, Warren hopes that strong mentoring relationships will help more students smoothly transition to postsecondary education and avoid summer melt. “I think this program will fill a gap in student supports in our community,” she said: “We know that a lot can happen over the summer that can prevent students from completing their postsecondary plans. Our goal is to give students the support they need and increase the number of students that enroll in postsecondary education and are successful.”

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