Harvard Students To Mentor High School Seniors

The Harvard College Writing Program launched a new collaborative mentorship program with East Boston High School this fall, designed to give college-bound public high school students a taste of college life and spark their interest in higher education.

“By entering the world of the university as they work on their admissions essays, high school students may find the application process all the more motivating and their goals more concrete,” wrote Christina K. Becker, the faculty director for the program, in an emailed statement.

The Harvard College Writing Program runs the College’s Expository Writing Program and coordinates resources available to those who need assistance with writing.

The new initiative, known as the College-Bound Mentoring Program, will assist high school students with the college application process by helping them brainstorm possible college essay topics, setting goals and deadlines for application materials, and editing drafts of college essays.

Mentors will also provide high school students with a taste of university life by taking them to events such as lectures and meetings of Harvard’s extracurricular activities.

The new initiative, announced to those on the Writing Program email list in late November, is accepting applications from Harvard students through Dec. 7.

The first set of mentors and mentees will be paired in spring of 2013.

“One of the wonderful things about this program is that it allows the Harvard students to get a sense of the high school student’s voice and passions, so those can be reflected and preserved in the final [college] essay,” wrote Courteney E. Smith ’13, student director of the program, in an email.

Erin O’Hearn, an ESL teacher at East Boston High School, wrote in an email that Harvard’s mentoring program was especially suited to the needs of the school, which has a high proportion of students who are immigrants.

Many of these students will be the first from their families to attend college, according to O’Hearn.

“The critical leap from high school to college can be difficult because of the linguistic barriers and the challenges of cultural integration,” O’Hearn wrote. “Some of them have never even been exposed to the possibility of higher education, much less navigating the system to get there."

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