The Benefits of Having a College Mentor
It's moving day at college.
Your parents move in the last boxes from the car and give you one last hug and kiss and head back home.
Finally, you're on your own. The independence that you've yearned for all these years is finally here. You can do whatever you want. No more chores, no more curfew.
But sometimes, that independence can be a little overwhelming.
After eighteen years with your parents watching over you, the independence of college can feel a bit like you're drowning in an abyss of new, stressful situations.
In this time, a college mentor can be a helpful life preserver.
Here are a few reasons you should find a mentor in college.
Keep Things In Perspective
Growing up, you probably trusted your parents when they would talk about how the world works and why things happen.
But when you get to college, that worldview will be stretched a bit. College will put you in contact with people of different beliefs, different political ideals, and different value systems.
It's not uncommon for students to feel like their parents' view was incomplete or flat out incorrect.
And when your value system is up in the air, it's easy to lose yourself in the swirling ephemera of doubt and reconstruction. You might find yourself making self-destructive decisions because you're not sure what matters.
But if you have a mentor that you can talk you through these shifts in perspective, they can help you find valuable solid ground. They can help you feel anchored while the rest of the world swirls around you.
Offers Emotional Support
Nobody loves you like your mom.
And when you're living in the same house, it can be easy to take that for granted.
When you're a hundred miles away in a dorm room full of strangers, that emotional support can be difficult to find. And chances are, most of your fellow students are having the same struggles you are.
Your college mentor obviously won't love you as much as your mother, but they can give you valuable emotional support when no one else cares.
Just having their listening ear and warm presence is a valuable asset. They can give much-needed affirmations and assure you that everything is going to be okay.
It's no replacement for mom, but it's better than nothing.
Get Insider Advice
We all need advice every once in a while. This is especially true in college.
And you've probably noticed that people love giving advice—even if they don't know anything about the situation.
But advice without context is dangerous. What might work for one person's situation might be destructive for yours.
However, if you have a long-term relationship with a mentor, they will have valuable inside information that will help give context during counsel.
If you're having a hard time choosing a major, they'll be able to advise you because they've gotten to know what's important to you.
If you're going through a conflict with your family back home, they might already have insight into your unique family dynamics.
Having that close relationship with someone who has a bit of wisdom and already knows your situation can be invaluable when you find yourself at a crossroad.
When that dorm door closes and your parents drive back home, you'll likely feel a bit of relief.
All through high school, they've pushed you to get better grades and do more activities so you could earn scholarships. It might have seemed like no amount of success was enough to get them off your case.
Now that you're at college, you don't have your parents breathing down your neck.
Now, you have to motivate yourself.
It might feel like a relief, but you might set your bar too low. You choose a course load that is far beneath your abilities. You let your GPA slip, because "C's get degrees," right?
When it comes time to motivate our selves, many of us are too easy on ourselves.
This is where your mentor comes in.
After you've built a relationship, your mentor will have a pretty good idea of your capabilities. So if they see you underperforming or slacking off, they'll be more equipped than most people to motivate you.
Build Your Professional Network
As the old saying goes, "it's not what you know, it's who you know." And the data supports that.
As important as a good education is, that experience might not be as important as your professional network.
Building that network from scratch can be a bit difficult. How do you decide who you should introduce yourself to?
But if your mentor is in the same field that you're studying, there's a good chance that they already have an established network.
And as you continue to build your relationship, they'll introduce you to people that you would need to know. They may even become a valuable professional reference for you when you search for a job.
Find a College Mentor
College isn't just for learning. It's also a valuable time of self-discovery, professional development, and reevaluating what kind of person you want to be.
And if you go into that process by yourself, you can find yourself up the proverbial creek without a paddle.
With a college mentor by your side, you can traverse the murky waters of college life with stable, wise counsel.
But if you don't know where to find a mentor, try connecting through your school's Honor Society chapter. Click here for a directory!