College can be and is full of exciting new experiences and opportunities to grow not only as a student, but just as importantly, as a person.
Television shows and movies always showcase images of college students excelling at their courses, being involved in numerous organizations, and seemingly doing everything right the first time without any help. Yet the reality of every college students’ life is that we all could use some help sometimes. Don’t let TV fool you—everyone needs some guidance, and guidance is something you should seek in college!
Guidance throughout your time in college can not only increase your likelihood of success when it comes to achieving goals you might have, but it also provides a special type of bond with someone that can extend far beyond your college years. This type of guidance would be mentorship, and if you have yet to seek a mentor in college, you will by the end of this post.
A mentor has a plethora of benefits in college! It is also important to note that there are several different types of mentors and that you are never “too old” or it’s never “too late” to get a mentor. That mindset is like saying we grow out of needing help or that there’s a time stamp on our right to seek guidance in life. With that in mind, a mentor can be anyone from a professor or graduate student within an academic department to an employer or an older peer.
This academic year I have begun serving as a mentor through the registered student organization Reaching Across Classes (RACs) on campus. Peer mentorship is just as important and needed as mentorship from someone who is in a different stage of life than you.
As a mentor, I have the ability to relate to my mentees on a number of things. I still remember what it was like to be a freshman attempting to navigate campus and campus life for the first time, and my experiences have proven valuable for my mentees. I can prevent them from making mistakes that I made as a freshman, guide them toward resources and people who can assist them with things that align with their interests, and be someone who is there to celebrate and support them.
Being a peer mentor allows me to empathize with the emotions that arise when my mentees can’t find their classes or their first college exam is coming up and their freak-out level is on 10. But even mentors need and can greatly benefit from mentors!
While attending the University of Illinois, I have sought mentorship over the past two years from a professor within the History Department. My faculty mentor in the History Department has guided me through everything imaginable. Her guidance in choosing courses that align with my interests is just one of the many big decisions she’s helped me make that have allowed me to make the most of my education.
But having a mentor has impacted more than just my academic life on campus. My mentor has also served as someone I discuss my future goals and career plans with, work through any struggles I might be facing, and even assists me with plans for future projects I might have in the works.
My experiences with my mentor are just further proof that the type of mentorship you can receive (and give!) on campus can range across an endless scope. A mentor can help you with just about any and everything! A college mentor goes beyond the more obvious academic and career centered benefits. Mentors can also provide you with someone whom you can always seek assistance from, knowing that this person is genuinely rooting for your well-being and success.
A personal cheerleader is someone every college student will need at some point, and a mentor provides just that exactly when you need it. That is the real essence of the importance of a mentor in college, because we don’t know everything there is to know, and that’s okay! There are people on campus who are willing to help fill in those gaps of knowledge and experience to ensure that we all succeed in whatever it is we have our hearts set on doing.
See my experiences with being and having a mentor as just the beginning of all the ways a mentor can make your college experience easier and more enjoyable. The possibilities are truly endless.