Project SOAR (Student Outreach for Access & Resiliency) is a service-learning experience that routinely places over 100 UA undergraduate mentors in under-resourced middle schools in the Tucson area. These students are enrolled in either HED 350 (fall) or HED 397B (spring), both of which examine issues of college access. Mentors meet 1-on-1 or with a small group of middle school youth weekly, addressing topics including academic strengths, self-esteem, conflict resolution, career exploration, and the college search process. Mentoring pairs or groups remain consistent throughout the semester in order to develop a strong, positive relationship.This College of Education program is housed within the Center for the Study of Higher Education in the Department of Educational Policy Studies and Practice.
Find more on Native SOAR
Goals of Project SOAR
The goal of the program is to encourage middle school students to think about their futures after high school, and to
- gain a basic understanding of what college is,
- why it might be important for their future career, and
- how one goes about searching for and applying to college.
Mentors share their experiences regarding the college search process, the college experience both in the classroom and on campus, major selection, balancing homework with other obligations (work, family, clubs, athletics, etc.), and discuss the basics of financial aid.
Impact of the Program
- Over 25,000 mentoring hours have been logged by SOAR students since 2005
- Over 2,300 middle school students have benefited from a SOAR mentor since 2005
- A 2011 mentee survey revealed that 73.3% of the middle school students believed they had a mentor who motivated them to do well in school, believed they could be a success (74%), and had increased their motivation to get good grades (67.9%).
- 72% of the middle school mentees surveyed agreed that their mentors had increased their interest in going to college. Additionally, mentors were credited for increasing their knowledge about getting into college (69.4%) and future careers (67%).