October 3, 2012
College-mentor

The Value of a College Mentor

If you’ve ever had an influential teacher or coach, you know well the impact such a relationship can have on your life. And at college in particular—a major time of transition—it is so important to have a strong support system. Having a mentor-type figure in your life can mean the difference between a good college experience and a great one.

Get advice, bounce ideas, and more

College can be scary—and a mentor can help show you the ropes, give you advice, and serve as a sounding board when weighing and making difficult decisions.

If you choose a mentor who is outside of your department or school, you may find it refreshing to have an impartial person to bounce ideas off of when thinking about classes, your major, and a career. On the other hand, having a mentor within your area of study may benefit you a great deal, as you can get real-world advice on the path you may soon embark upon.

Benefits of having a person on your team

There are many other benefits to having a person “on your team” to talk to. Apart from offering academic advice, a mentor can help you…

  • Get familiar with your college campus.
  • Learn to advocate for yourself throughout college.
  • Find the resources that can make your college experience easier.
  • Overcome challenges and be your cheerleader.
  • Find clubs and activities on campus that may be of interest.

How to find a mentor

Your college may have one or more formal mentorship programs for new or existing students, so be sure to ask around. Sometimes these programs pair students with professionals in the community. You might get matched up with an older student who can show you the ropes at college. One example here at FRCC is the First Year Experience program at the Larimer Campus, which helps new students acclimate to college. Ask the admissions advisors at your college about the different mentor programs and how you can get involved.

You don’t have to participate in a formal program to develop a strong mentor-mentee relationship. If you feel a connection with a professor, a staff person, or someone else in your college community, why not ask him or her to be your mentor? An advisor is one obvious choice, but you can certainly reach out to someone else whom you admire and respect.

My mentor experience

Although I never participated in a formal mentoring program at college, I was fortunate enough to have several great professors with whom I stayed in contact for many years after I graduated. The person I connected with the most—and adopted as my college mentor—was the late Will Schwartz of Colorado State University’s Department of Music, Theatre and Dance.

Valuable insight and guidance

Because I played violin in the CSU symphony and chamber orchestras, I was with Mr. Schwartz a lot (I took violin lessons from him as well). And in many ways, the thing I appreciated about him most was the fact that he was totally outside of the business school, where I spent a lot of time. As I “grew up” at college, Mr. Schwartz helped me find my place at CSU, showed me how to make the most of my college years, and taught me to give my all to anything I attempted—in and outside of music. I went to him often with questions about school and life, and I always appreciated his insight and guidance.

Do you have a mentor? How did you find him/her? How has the relationship benefited you most?

About the author:

Michaele Charles is the founder of Voice Communications and writes frequently for higher education institutions, small businesses, corporate clients, and others. She also is a fledgling children’s writer. In her pre-writing life, she worked in accounting and finance.