Washington State University
Academic Level
Issue Area(s)
Key Personnel
Washington State University
Compton Union 409
PO Box 647204
Pullman, WA 99164
United States

To help integrate first-year multicultural college students into the college environment, the Office of Minority Affairs established the Multicultural Student Mentor Program (MSMP) in 1988 as a retention strategy to welcome and help incoming students in their transition and adjustment to the university environment. The program focuses on improving multicultural student retention rates by providing mentoring, tutoring, and academic success workshops to students. This program has been helpful for both the students and the institution. The program provides mentors with an excellent leadership experience, mentees with a strong peer connection while increasing the university’s retention rates. Over the last 30 years, the program has become one of the most solid university retention strategies for multicultural students and a best practice of students serving students. The program has also experienced significant growth in the number of mentors from 6 the inaugural year to 60 today. The support, training, and guidance of the mentors has also evolved greatly with the establishment of training retreats and a class dedicated to learning mentoring theory and praxis. Each academic year, over 1200 first-year multicultural students (mentees) participate in this program. The university commitment to the program has also increased over the years.


The primary goal of the MSMP is to assist the growing number of multicultural first-year student with their academic and social transition to college. This program strives to promote and facilitate student interaction and provides opportunities for peer mentors and mentees to connect and form strong academic relationships to foster success in their college experience.


Freshman fall-to-fall retention rates increased from an unsteady range of 63% in the early years of the program to a more stable retention for freshman cohorts. E.g., the average freshman fall-to-fall retention for the last 10 years (2000-09) is 84% for the total student body and 81% for multicultural students. Over the years, the retention for freshmen served and actively engaged in the MSMP is equal or higher. For example, for the AY 09-10, 88% of the freshman active in the program enrolled in the fall 2010, and 83% of the fall 2010 freshman cohort active in the program enrolled in the fall 2011. For the AY 11-12, 79% of the Latino freshman active in the program enrolled in the fall 2012. And, 100% of Latino freshman cohort active in the program completed the fall 2012 semester. In the fall 2012 semester, the MSMP served 1233 mentees. Out of these, 408 were Latino students.

This trend continues today. In the academic year 2015-2016, the multicultural freshman fall-to-fall retention was 76.9%. Furthermore, students who were active in the MSMP had a much higher fall-to-fall retention, 77.1% vs 74% those not active in the program.

Program Focus
First Year Support, Mentoring