college mentors: seeking out and cultivating relationships

Posted : October 28, 2014
Last Updated : June 4, 2020

college mentors: seeking out and cultivating relationships

A good support system is critical in order to achieve short-term and long-term success during and after college. A key element of that support involves college mentors. College mentors are an integral part of the college experience as they can provide advice, share wisdom, offer encouragement, and help guide your academic and career path. Learn how to seek out appropriate mentors while in college and how to cultivate relationships with them in order to receive guidance throughout your college career.

Finding Mentors

Because mentors can perform such a wide variety of duties, from helping you transition into your first year of college to helping you pick a major to offering career advice, you can seek out multiple mentors in an array of places. Mentors can be:

  • Current or former professors
  • Grad students and assistant professors
  • Academic advisors
  • Bosses and supervisors from jobs or internships
  • Resident assistants in your dorm building
  • Students from school-organized mentorship programs
  • Individuals from school and professional clubs and organizations
  • College alumni

Think about your specific goals, needs, and passions when searching for different mentors. If you are a first-year student, you may need a student mentor who is going to show you the ropes at your new school. If you are trying to decide on a major, you may need the help of an academic advisor who can help you determine your passions and interests. If you are trying to get your foot in the door in a certain career industry, you will want a mentor, such as a professor or alumnus, who has a networking circle within that industry. Try to find mentors who share an interest in your specific goals and passions. By joining clubs and attending public lectures related to your interests, you will increase your chances of finding the right kind of mentors for your needs. Mentors can be found in many corners of a college, so keep an eye out for individuals who make you feel supported, challenged, and/or inspired.

Cultivating Relationships

After you have identified potential mentor candidates, simply ask them if they would have time to meet with you and answer some questions. Most potential mentors will readily agree. Once you find mentors, it's up to you to keep the relationships going. Here are a few ways to nurture relationships with your college mentors.

  • Let your mentors know your needs. Give your mentors a detailed description of how you would like them to help you. This may range from specific campus on-goings to academic studies to career advice to life lessons.
  • Ask questions. Don't be afraid to go to your mentors when you have questions. A common complaint among mentors, such as professors and advisors, is that students don't come to them often enough for information.
  • Get to know each other. The more interactions you have with your mentors, the better you will get to know each other. This will lead to more meaningful and helpful relationships with your mentors. Express an interest in what your mentors do and why they do it, and then bring your own passions and questions to the conversations.
  • Keep in touch. Once you have built substantial relationships, keep in touch with your mentors with monthly lunches, quarterly phone calls, or steady e-mail correspondence. Mentors with whom you've met consistently over the years can write letters of recommendation for your graduate school and job applications or even open up doors for your future career.

To ensure success during college and beyond, be sure to seek out trustworthy mentors who will offer support and guidance to help you reach your full potential. For more information about finding a college mentor, contact your school's mentoring program or Career Services department.

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