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Underrepresented Students in Community Engagement: Approaches and Impacts

Vol. 27 No. 2: Special Issue: The Role of Community Engagement in the Educational Success of Underrepresented Students

How a Community Engagement Model of Near-Peer Counseling Impacts Student Mentors’ College Outcomes

July 15, 2022


This study examines how a community engagement model of near-peer counseling impacts counselors’ own college success as underrepresented students in higher education, here defined as one-year persistence in college. Near-peer mentors participated in a program provided by College Access: Research and Action (CARA), which trains young people to support peers in their home communities at New York City public high schools and City University of New York (CUNY) 2-year colleges through critical college application, enrollment, and retention milestones. Aggregated across 4 years of data, our results indicate CARA near-peer counselors are nearly twice as likely to persist in college (p < .001) as peers with similar demographic and academic characteristics not participating in CARA. Findings are replicated for students of color (2.09 times higher, p < .001) and economically disadvantaged students (1.78 times higher, p = .003). Implications for peer mentor program development through public university–community partnerships are discussed.