One of the main goals of universities is to help students thrive and succeed in any way they can, preparing them for the real world after graduation. Sometimes it can be really difficult for students to make that transition, but mentoring provides extra support that can help new students find their footing in college or soon-to-be-graduates find their place in the world beyond the walls of higher ed.
Mentoring programs have been proven to increase student persistence in attaining a college degree. The National Bureau of Economic Research found that students who sign up for a mentor are 14% more likely to stay in college and 13% more likely to graduate college after four years.
College is an influential time for students. They’re figuring out who they are, who they want to be and what they want to do in their future. Mentoring is a helpful strategy universities and colleges can provide to connect them with people who can show them new skills, grow their knowledge and encourage them to pursue their goals and ambitions.
Types of Academic Mentoring
According to Millennial Branding, 57% of students wish their schools offered more networking opportunities. That’s where career mentoring comes in. This mentorship program pairs students with an alumnus or professional in their field of interest who can offer them career advice, networking skills, or a possible career path to follow.
This valuable and engaging opportunity gives students a competitive edge post-graduation, increases their job placement opportunities, and enables students to expand their professional networks.
Learn more about the benefits of student career mentoring.
For many new college students, transitioning to university life is daunting, especially if you might be the first person in your family to go to college. It can be scary. It’s a big change. Peer mentoring helps students connect with other students like them who can help them feel more at home while in college. This can be done through support, guidance and encouraging them to participate in activities or connect with other students at the school.
Peer mentoring is especially popular for transfer students, international students, and veterans who sometimes feel isolated from the rest of their peers. It can help keep at-risk students inspired and engaged by providing deeper support, creating a more successful student experience, and enabling students to gain valuable leadership experience as mentors.
Find out more about peer mentoring.
When students strongly agree that their college prepared them well, they are nine times more likely to be attached to their alma mater, according to the Gallup-Purdue Index. Alumni find mentoring students in their alma mater to be a very meaningful and rewarding experience. This type of mentoring also gives students access to a global network of professionals who have valuable knowledge and insight when it comes to life after graduation. It also offers students a new way to network in their chosen industry.
Alumni mentoring is a great way for universities to educate and support students while creating a stronger bond with alumni. This mentoring program promotes deeper engagement with alumni and inspires them to give back with a meaningful volunteer opportunity.
Explore the additional benefits of alumni mentoring.
Why Colleges Should Be Supporting Students With Mentors
There are a lot of different mentoring programs that really improve student experiences while enrolled in a college or university. Whether it’s skills, knowledge or confidence, colleges have started offering these mentorship programs to give students a head start on the “real world” ahead of them.
Mentoring helps students gain career and academic advice that sets them up for success when they enter the job market. It’s also a way for students to explore various career options as they decide majors to pursue and industries to enter.
For colleges and universities, offering mentorship is a valuable initiative that can improve job placement after graduation, a desirable benefit for students when picking the right place for their continued education. The Leeds School of Business at the University of Colorado, Boulder saw a 40 percent increase in job placement for students from their career mentoring program.
One important aspect of college is building your professional network. Different mentoring programs open up these networking opportunities even more, whether it be introducing students to more college faculty or people that already work in their chosen industry. Harvard University has done just that with their Longwood Campus Mentoring Program. The program “provides a unique and inclusive learning environment by connecting mentees and mentors of diverse backgrounds and experiences, which facilitates cross-cultural and cross-functional learning opportunities.” Building up personal relationships and learning how to communicate with professionals is an important skill that colleges should help students build. Networking is one of the best ways to land a job, making this a very invaluable aspect of mentoring programs.
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Nonstop assignments. Tough exams. Studying. More studying. College students can easily become overwhelmed. Sometimes this anxious feeling can lead to self doubt. They may wonder if they made the right choice, or if they should have even gone to college in the first place.
When students are starting to feel this way, a mentor is someone who can offer the encouragement and confidence boost they need to push forward. Not only that, but mentors can inspire them to aim even higher.
Provide Insider’s Perspective
Mentors are people students look up to because they have qualities that they are seeking within themselves or hoping to develop over time. That’s what makes a mentor’s insight and experience so valuable to students.
You can read about job requirements, but only someone within the industry can provide insider tips like what specific skills companies are looking for and some factors and realities you may run into on the job. A mentor has gone through every stage of the hiring process and career chain, so they have insight and advice for specific situations that can greatly benefit a student.
Balance College Responsibilities
One part of college that’s often new for students is the balance of new responsibilities. There are academic responsibilities, of course, but also social and personal—and sometimes professional. Sometimes, these can be overwhelming. Luckily, mentors can help, providing insight and advice on how to balance these different priorities and aspects of college life.
Build Moral Support
College students sometimes just need someone to talk to. Yes, college is fun. You meet new people. You go to parties. You learn new things. But these new activities come with challenges that might require some extra support along the way.
Mentors are there to talk about your academic troubles, personal life, goals for the future and beyond. They’re there to be someone students can trust in and confide. Sometimes students don’t need career advice or study advice. Sometimes they just need a listening ear to give them that boost of morale or motivation.
How Software Can Enable Academic Mentorship
Mentoring software makes matching mentors and mentees easy and effective based on criteria (location, skillset, demographic, etc) that you deem most important. Instead of sitting in a room for hours matching mentors and mentees amidst spreadsheets and post-it notes, software lets you pick the matching model that’s best for your participants and then does the hard part for you.
Robust software can also guide the program’s productivity, keeping tabs on each mentoring pair to ensure meetings provide optimal learning experiences and both participants are reaching intended milestones.
Finally, universities must comply with strict regulations when handling student data. The right mentoring platform provides a secure, private environment that lets administrators control access and information sharing so that no one’s privacy is compromised.
Whether it’s preparing students to pursue the career of their dreams or inspiring alumni to give back to their alma mater by helping students network within their chosen field, mentoring is very important for college students.
It’s a source of inspiration, confidence, support, and knowledge that will make their university experience memorable and more impactful than ever before.