Why is Mentoring Important for College Students?

A mentor can be essential to your college experience, providing the support and guiding you toward academic and personal success.

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Your path to success in college can often feel overwhelming, with your assignments, personal life and future career plans all clamouring for your attention. But, having someone by your side throughout this time can make all the difference in achieving your goals.

A mentor can be essential to your college experience, providing the support and guiding you toward academic and personal success.

So, what exactly is a mentor?

Marcia Griffith, a support analyst on the solutions training team at Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU), oversees a mentorship program for student financial services and knows all about mentoring.

"A mentor is an individual who helps guide, advise and support another individual as they journey to achieve their goals," she said. "They help the individual define and clarify their goals and provide guidance in overcoming obstacles so they can be achieved."

Dr. Torialyn Draper Crook, an academic advisor at SNHU, has her definition of mentorship after years of mentorship in her personal and professional experiences.

"I define mentorship as a process where a mentor is as invested in the success of their mentee as they are in their own success," Crook said. "This definition speaks to the dedication inherent in the mentoring process."

What Are the Benefits of Having a Mentor in College?

The support a mentor provides can help you feel more confident and capable in your academic pursuits and future career plans.

"The mentor provides unique perspectives to both education as well as the world beyond the college years," said Griffith. "They can lend some valuable insights, offer professional advice based on their own experiences, and help foster new relationships for the student that may be beneficial once college is completed."

Crook believes one of the most beneficial parts of mentorship is how versatile it can be.

"Mentors have the potential to teach many things both formally and informally," she said.

A mentor can help you academically, professionally and personally during your college career, and each component is just as important as the other to have a successful college experience.

Crook dives into the ways a mentor can help with each.

"Academically, a mentor can teach practical skills such as time management and organisational skills," said Crook. "Professionally, mentors can teach effective communication, networking, and nuances for how to navigate within a given career field."

And from a personal viewpoint, a mentor can teach you how to motivate yourself and reflect on your goals. This is important because your personal life is intertwined with your academic and professional success.

"An individual's academics will bridge into one's professional career, which has an impact on one's personal life. They are all connected," said Griffith. "Although a mentor may be focused on assisting with one of those aspects, the impact will likely be released on all three."

The benefits of having someone in your corner to help you navigate this time in your life can be significant. Having someone to lead you in the right direction, give you solid advice and have your best interest in mind can make an incredible difference in helping you meet your goals.

How to Find a Mentor in College

Now that you know how a mentor can benefit you, where do you find one? It's not as complicated as it may seem.

• Start with your professors. They have connections within the field of study you're considering for a career and can connect you with the right advisors or colleagues to help build that relationship.

• You can also reach out to your peers. The value of networking with the people around you may surprise you; you never know where or to whom it could lead you. In this case, it could be the mentor you've been looking for.

• Another option is to join a mentorship program, which can make the process much easier.

What's most important is to be engaged in your university's community, whether on campus or online, and to put yourself out there to meet people.

"Attending university-sponsored events, accessing services such as career services, or joining student and professional organisations, are examples of being engaged for both traditional and online students," said Crook. "Engaging in this manner allows students to interact with people from various backgrounds who are in various roles."

If you don't find a mentor or the right mentor for you right away, that's okay. Just keep putting yourself out there for new opportunities.

"Students should know that it takes time to find the right mentor," said Crook. "The mentor/mentee relationship is only as successful as the individuals involved."

It's a big decision for a mentor and mentee to work together. These relationships can last much longer than just your time in college.

"Some mentor/mentee relationships can last a lifetime, while others for a season," said Griffith. "Down the road, if the student feels they need a mentor again, their college mentorship would have laid a foundation from which they could build upon."

By joining student organisations, attending university events (online and in-person), and utilising the tools provided to you by your university, such as career and academic advisors, tutors, professors and more, you're bound to find the right person to help you navigate your college journey.

Are Mentorship Programs Worth It?

"Absolutely," said Griffith.

"If offered an opportunity to mentor with someone who is willing to share their expertise, insights, and time to assist an individual's development – even if it is outside the student's comfort zone, they should do it," she said. "There is nothing to lose, only lots to gain."

A mentor can play an invaluable role in your life and provide you with opportunities and guidance in many forms.

"The role of a mentor in helping a college student develop important life skills is central to the mentorship process," said Crook. "Because mentors teach, guide, model and advocate, they are uniquely positioned to help students in their personal and professional development."

You aren't going to know everything you need to know when in college, and that's okay. Having a mentor to show you the ropes is worth your time to find the right person and forge that relationship. They can introduce you to the skills and knowledge you'll need to succeed while earning your degree and after graduation.

Griffith believes it's essential to learn from those who have walked in similar shoes before you, and having a mentor can be the thing that makes the difference between a good college experience and a great one.

"It's wise to take advantage of any opportunity to meet new people," said Griffith. "They may be short conversations or long ones, engaging ones and boring ones, but each conversation may offer a nugget of wisdom that can be carried forward as your journey continues."

Author Bio

Alexa Gustavsen '21 is a writer at Southern New Hampshire University. Connect with her on LinkedIn.

SNHU does not endorse or sponsor any commercial product, service, or activity offered on this website.

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