How to Mentor College Students?

In today’s hectic, fast-paced life style, there may seem to be little time to volunteer as a mentor. However, becoming a mentor to a college student will prove to be beneficial for both the mentor and the mentee. There are three stages that are part of mentoring: teaching, coaching and acting as a friend. As a part of these stages, there are several steps that can be taken to ensure the experience is empowering to both the mentor and the mentee.

  1. Choose the college student to be mentored. Often the student will approach the person who she would like to have as a mentor. For the mentor, the job is easiest if the mentor is involved in higher education; however, the experience is equally important for all people involved in mentoring because of the experience brought to the program.
  2. Enter the teaching stage of mentoring. In this stage, the mentor discovers, through discussion and by looking over the student’s written work, the strengths of this student. Whatever may be weak can also be improved upon through the mentor’s advice and through feedback. As a part of this stage, the student can act as a shadow to the mentor. By following the mentor and by watching how the mentor writes correspondence and various papers and reports and the way the mentor communicates over the phone, in person and via email, the student gains valuable lessons.
  3. Provide exposure to different perspectives on various issues, and to have discussions based on the material the student is studying. The student needs to be reminded that questions are essential to the learning and mentoring process. It should also be stressed that no question, as long as it is asked respectfully, is off limits.
  4. Enter the stage of mentorship. In this stage, the mentor acts as a coach and, as such, offers encouragement to keep the student motivated. The mentor also helps the student understand effective ways to deal with problems and obstacles that may show up. The key here is to keep the student motivated so that he will not give up on the goal of achieving the college degree.
  5. Know that the final stage is friendship. The mentor must remember that, along with being a teacher and a coach, the mentor is most importantly a friend who is there through thick and thin. The mentor is the sounding board for anything that bothers or troubles the student.

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