Having a mentor will go a long way towards making your college experience more beneficial and well-rounded. A mentor can help you decide which classes to take. They can review your scholarship applications, introduce you to their networks, and even serve as references when you begin applying for jobs. However, it can take some students a while to settle into the position of “mentee.” Here are some dos and don’ts that will help you be a respectful mentee while also getting the most out of this opportunity.
Do: Ask questions.
Asking questions is a key way to start forming a closer, yet professional relationship with your mentor. Not only will you get good answers to your questions, but the types of questions you ask will give your mentor some insight into the type of guidance you’re in need of. This will help them better guide you, going forward.
Don’t: Wait until the last minute.
Most mentors are busy people. They have demanding professional jobs, and they may have other mentees and students they work with, too. They’re happy to help you, but they will appreciate some forewarning when you want or need their assistance. For example, if you have a scholarship application essay you’d like them to review, ask a few weeks before it’s due — not the day before. If you need a letter of reference, ask for it as soon as you find out you need it.
Do: Keep them updated on your life.
Make sure you keep your mentor in the loop regarding your academic and professional life and achievements. For instance, if you join an honors society, let your mentor know. If you decide to apply for jobs over the summer instead of taking classes, fill them in. Not only will this help your mentor offer better guidance, but it will show them that you’re using and are thankful for the guidance they’ve given you so far.
Don’t: Rely on your mentor as your only source of advice or information.
Mentors are typically very good at giving advice to students. However, mentors are only human, and they do not know everything. The advice they give you is also only one opinion. Take their opinions and advice seriously, but don’t hesitate to ask for other opinions, too. It’s okay to go against your mentor’s advice sometimes as long as you have strong reasoning and support for doing so.
NSCS Mentoring Program
Included in an NSCS membership is the opportunity to participate in the NSCS Mentoring Program. The Scholar Central member community will help match you to the best fit mentor, provide a framework for how to interact with your mentor, and milestones along the way to ensure you are achieving your goals. If you would like to join NSCS, please visit info.nscs.org/mentorship-lp.org.
Do: Set up a regular meeting schedule.
It’s often easiest to keep your mentor “in the loop” if the two of you meet on a regular basis. For instance, you may want to get together every other Thursday for lunch. Or, you might want to stop by their office for a brief check-in on your way home every Friday. Treat these appointments as a priority, and only reschedule if you have a true emergency come up. Your mentor has set this time aside for you, and sticking to your scheduled appointments is a sign of respect for their time.
Don’t: Expect them to do the work for you.
Mentors can be the perfect people to review applications, look over resumes, and read your essays. Just make sure you don’t cross the line and expect them to do this work for you. They should play a supportive role as you grow as a student and a professional.
Working with a mentor can take some getting used to, but it will be a transformational part of your college experience. Adhere to the dos and don’t above to benefit from this relationship while showing respect for your mentor’s time and expertise.