What Makes a College Mentoring Program Successful?

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There are so many different ways to learn. One of the most personal and relationship-building learning experiences comes from mentorship. College mentoring programs are designed to pair students with professional mentors or fellow students so that they can assist in a student’s growth. These types of programs teach valuable academic skills, as well as lifelong and professional tools.


However, not every university mentoring program is equal. It takes precision, care, and constant oversight to ensure that a mentoring program is successful. Let’s dive into all the elements that make mentoring programs beneficial and the type of people who should be mentors.



What is Mentoring?

Mentoring is a guidance system where one person (the mentor) imparts their knowledge, skills, and experiences with another person (the mentee or student). The goal of mentorship is to help mentees learn skills and information that will help lead them to success in their careers. Mentors are available to offer and serve as a resource to the mentee whenever a need may arise.


Mentoring is more than just sharing knowledge. Mentors help mentees identify their own goals and offer empowerment and encouragement to guide them to achieve their goals, or solve any challenges along the way. Mentors aren’t intended to dictate how to do something, but rather, they are there to offer insight and support as their mentees develop their own methods during their career path.



Older student mentoring a young student

Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash



What is a College Mentor Program?

Mentoring programs exist in workplaces and in colleges. In colleges, a mentorship program pairs an older student with an incoming student, or it may pair a graduate with a current student. The mentoring student can help newcomers choose their schedule, balance their time, help with studying, provide campus tours, and offer assistance in whatever a new student may need.


If the mentorship pairs a graduate with a current student, then it is designed to help offer career advice while a student is learning a subject academically.



Why Is It Offered on Campus?

Campuses offer mentoring programs to help students acclimate and grow with support. Mentorship programs can help incoming students adjust better to the new lifestyle of being a college student. Mentorship programs also provide students with resources and networking opportunities for when they graduate and enter the workforce.



Who Is It For?

Mentoring programs are for everyone. That said, they usually work best with students who are eager to learn and are open-minded. All students in any year or discipline can take part in mentorship programs.



What Makes a College Mentor Program Successful?

The design and implementation of a college mentor program takes time, effort, and sincere consideration.


To create or take part in a successful college mentor program, you’ll want to make sure that the following aspects are taken care of:


1. Strong Leadership:


Your program’s director will be critical to your program’s success. Finding the right leader means putting someone in charge who is organized, passionate, and good at communicating. The program director should be able to make ongoing adjustments and changes to the program based on feedback.



2. Clear Objectives:


There are many university mentorship programs that fail because they don’t have clearly outlined objectives and goals. Good objectives should be SMART. This stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Bound. When the program’s participants and leaders have clearly defined objectives, then everyone involved will be more dedicated to achieving the respective goals together.



3. Flexibility:


While a mentorship program needs to have structure, it also has to be adaptable to the varying needs of mentors and mentees. For example, you can try a mentorship program that is structured in its pairing methodology, but flexible in the way mentors and mentees can schedule their time together.



4. Participant Preparation:


This step goes further than orientation. Setting up participants for success means offering guidance throughout the program. Individual goals need to be understood so that they can be met. To make this happen, you can use a variety of different tools, from social media to webinars, forums, and group lectures. The more prepared and involved participants feel, the more open they will be to provide feedback and communicate with one another and program leaders.



5. Matchmaking:


Naturally, one of the most important aspects of a successful mentorship program is the connection between a mentor and the mentee. You can use the help of artificial intelligence and computers to make this work or manually create matches. It helps to allow mentees to have a say in the decision of who their mentor will be. Consider offering a meet-and-greet and allowing mentees to rank their top three most desired mentors. Then, at least try to match them with one of the people on their list.



6. Measurement:


In a program that is based on intrapersonal communication, feedback is crucial. Regularly offer questionnaires for feedback and even recommendations for how the program can be better.



7. Closure:


Mentors and mentees end up having a relationship, which means this can turn into something open-ended. Instead, try to keep the process flowing towards reaching goals by setting milestones for measurement. This can allow mentors and mentees dedicated time to check-in with one another on how the process and relationship is progressing, as well as be able to reflect on what has been learned and what is still needed.



8. Marketing:


To continue the growth and success of mentoring programs, be sure to put on your marketing hat. Share the stories of mentees who have benefited from having a mentor so that new students are aware of the program’s existence. If students and mentors know what they could gain from the program, they will be more willing to invest their time and energy into being a part of it.



Student mentorship program

Photo by NEXT Academy on Unsplash



Benefits and Responsibilities

What is a Mentor?


A mentor is a person who shares their insight with another. Mentors should be able to coach their mentees, offer motivation, guide them to set realistic goals, and offer problem-solving abilities.



Why Should You Become a Mentor?


Serving as a mentor in a mentor program offers benefits like:


  • Opportunity to develop a strong relationship
  • Gain satisfaction in knowing you’re helping someone else succeed
  • Learn and grow professionally at the same time
  • Expand your network with other students and mentors
  • Develop leadership skills


What is a Protégé?

A protégé is another word for a mentee. Mentees should be active learners who are willing to take risks, make decisions, set goals, and have a desire to learn.


Why Should You Become a Protégé?


Protégés benefit from mentor programs by:


  • Establishing a relationship with their mentor
  • Expanding their professional network
  • Receiving constructive feedback
  • Opening their mind to new ideas and methods to accomplish goals
  • Overcoming challenges, fear, and anxieties


Why Don’t Some Programs Work?

As mentioned, mentorship programs take work to make them work.


There are many reasons why a mentorship program doesn’t wind up working. Some programs don’t work because they are too highly structured, or perhaps the objectives aren’t clearly stated.


Also, finding the right people to lead the program and be involved is crucial to making mentoring programs successful. Mentorship programs work best when mentors and mentees check in often with one another to gauge progress and foster the relationship.


If a program ends up not working out for either party, then it could be worth trying to connect with another mentor/mentee rather than giving up on the opportunity of being part of a mentorship program.



The Bottom Line

College mentor programs offer a great place for mentors and mentees to learn and grow together. Each person involved in the program benefits by learning from one another and expanding their network.


Mentorship programs are especially useful for new college students who want to get accustomed to the culture of being in college. From helping to manage your time, relieve stress, offer support, and provide guidance, these programs can help you succeed in both college and careers.