KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — An organization that helps high school graduates across Tennessee transition to college needs roughly 2,000 volunteer mentors by Friday.
tnAchieves Director of Mentors Tyler Ford said 282 mentors are needed in East Tennessee, with 60 of them needed in Knox County.
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a drop in the number of students going to college in Tennessee, but officials with tnAchieves said we may be at a turning point.
“The pandemic has caused a sharp six percent decline in the state’s college going rate,” said tnAchieves Executive Director Krissy DeAlejandro. “The good news is that the class of 2022 has applied at rates not seen since before the pandemic."
Many students who apply to tnAchieves are the first in their family to continue their education beyond high school. tnAchieves officials said those students simply need some extra guidance through the process.
Volunteer mentors commit to one hour per month. It may not seem like a big commitment, but it is significant to the students who need it.
"Many of the students we work with, when they start this process, are unsure of college. They're not sure if they're college material. They're not sure if they can really get through it. They feel like they would be lost in the process," Ford said.
Ford went on to say mentors will play a critical role in reversing negative enrollment trends brought on by the pandemic. "This is really our opportunity to make a comeback in 2022, and the class of 2022 has taken that first step," Ford said. "We really just need to make sure they get through to college now."
Volunteering with tnAchieves does not require any previous mentoring experience.
Mentors have the option of meeting with students virtually rather than in person.
Volunteers must be at least 21 years old, pass a background check, and complete a one-hour training session.
Those interested in applying to mentor can visit https://www.tnachieves.org/mentors.