Student involvement and retention in higher education: The case for academic peer mentoring programmes for first-years
The purpose of this article is to highlight the extent to which support for first years, such as an academic peer mentoring programme can play a positive role in studying successfully. The article also focuses on the many factors influencing student success in completing their studies. Factors such as academic unpreparedness (as a pre-enrolment factor) and adjustment at university (as a post-enrolment factor) are discussed as valid reasons to implement support structures in Higher Education (HE) in order to enhance success rates. A brief profile of first year student experiences and expectations is offered against the background of a literature review. A voluntary group of students were accommodated in a peer mentoring programme with the dual purpose of academic and psychosocial support. The findings indicate that there are at least three identifiable issues that can be addressed, namely enjoying support from significant others, feelings of being academically unprepared and feelings of isolation. Findings also indicate that student performance is enhanced by peer support, fostering both academic and social integration. © Unisa Press.