What Makes a Good Mentor?

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The nature of a great mentor-to-mentee relationship varies depending on the level and commitment of both parties. Each relationship is based on a common goal: to advance the growth of the mentee, whether it be educational or personal growth. Given this fact, it is important to note that there is no single perfect formula for great mentoring. Mentoring styles are as unique as human relationships; each student will require different amounts/types of attention, advice, information and encouragement. Knowing this, it is safe to say that an effective mentor is a careful communicator, an active listener and easily-approachable. Such mentorships would be especially appropriate when guiding a first generation college student onto, and through, the college pathway.

A mentor does not need to be regarded as an expert in their area of responsibility, they just need to be effective and careful communicators. It is one thing to be skilled in a task and entirely another to be able to clearly explain that knowledge and willing to take the time to do it. A great mentor must be clear when communicating the lessons they have learned and the strategies/guidance they are offering.

Communication is essential, as is the level of desire to communicate in a way that the mentee can understand and learn from. By simple virtue of their situation, a first-generation student cannot rely on family members’ experiences in higher education to guide them through the process. Trial-and-error is not a competent strategy for success, especially when a first-gen student confronts challenges that they are not familiar with and do not have the resources to manage them. A much more effective strategy is to learn from competent relatable mentors: those who can draw on their own experiences to help their mentee build a sense of self-efficacy and achievement. Often, a mentee does not know what to ask, what they need or what their options are.

A good mentor is able to enlighten the student’s confusion by getting to know them and naturally being familiar with useful information and offering that information without being asked. In the Fall STEP Program, at the University of Redlands, first year students attend weekly presentations that help guide them through all aspects of college =. Sometimes the topics covered are those that may no be addressed in any other setting, and considered to be “common sense” by non-first-gen students. It is important for a first-gen mentor to follow that same responsible ideology to educate their mentee on everything they need to know, because they might be too afraid to ask.

A mentor must, of course, be an active listener. It is important for a mentor to hear exactly what their mentee is trying to say without undermining or judging them. This can be done by paying attention to the way things are said, such as attitude and body language. Through careful listening, a mentor can convey empathy for their mentee and their understanding of the mentee’s challenges become clearer. When a mentee notices this empathy, it paves the way for better communication and even more effective guidance. Much like the Fall STEP program at the University of Redlands, the extent of the attention a mentee is given varies widely. A student who feels comfortable in their adjustment to college might need only brief check-ins, similar to the required weekly ones in STEP, while another student might have persisting difficulties and need many meetings a week. Although, it is important not to assume that the only student who needs help is the one who explicitly asks for it; even a student who is doing fine could need an occasional check-in.

In order to build an efficient relationship, a mentor must be approachable. A mentee should feel comfortable asking for advice. In the busy college-life, it is important to be prepared to answer any question a mentee might have and/or be able to guide them to the right resources to gain that information. In long-term relationships, such as a mentorships, friendships form naturally which adds a personal motivation for the mentor to see their mentee succeed. Friendships within the Summer Bridge program at the University of Redlands are easily identifiable as they are immediately developed due to the ease in which an incoming student is able to relate to and identify similarities between their situations and those of their mentors. Summer Bridge mentors make it clear that they want their mentee to step out of their comfort zones and ask questions, which makes it all the more easy to create such meaningful connections in such a short amount of time.

Learning by experience in contemporary situations is difficult particularly when those experiences are as complex as college life. This is why a peer mentor is the perfect resource for a first generation student. Such a mentor possesses the knowledge, skills and experience necessary to guide and support their mentee effectively and their similar backgrounds tend to give them powerful insights into the social and emotional challenges their mentee faces. A great mentor does not take their responsibility lightly, they feel invested in the success of the mentee, and usually this requires someone who is a thoughtful communicator, attentive listener, and possesses the attributes that a mentee would want in a friend. A good mentor is committed to helping their mentee find success and gratification in their college-life.

Cite this paper

What Makes a Good Mentor?. (2021, Jul 26). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/what-makes-a-good-mentor/

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