Qualities of a peer mentor
Mentoring needs to be more than “just another job” in order for it to be successful. Certain qualities are needed to help and successfully communicate with students: proactivity, flexibility, enthusiasm, leadership, and professionalism. These are values required of an employee of the Mentoring for Success Program.
Being more than just a tutor
Signing up for a peer mentor does not guarantee that a mentee will pass a class. As a mentor, the focus is not on teaching course material, but on fostering good study habits and learning techniques. The goal is to prepare mentees not only for their assigned classes, but for current and future challenges. By developing life skills, mentees become ready to be successful for their college careers and beyond.
Mentees often do not seek out help when they need it. A good mentor must be proactive. If a mentee is slow to respond, send reminders; following up with phone calls demonstrates commitment and sincerity. Coming prepared to meetings and adjusting them to meet mentees’ needs, meeting in places conducive to study, and keeping track of and managing events in a calendar are all examples of proactivity.
In order to accommodate and serve as many mentees as is possible, a mentor must be flexible both in schedule and in mind. Some mentees can only meet once or twice a week. Being able to reasonably accommodate a variety of mentees with different schedules and learning styles is necessary. Moreover, a mentor needs to recognize that mentees have different needs—some study techniques may work better for some than others. Flexibility is critical to effective mentoring.
Part of the job of a peer mentor is to help mentees become enthusiastic about school and learning, and to help to develop a positive attitude toward challenges. Enthusiasm is infectious: a mentor must show enjoyment and a positive attitude while mentoring. That enthusiasm is likely to spread to the mentee.
Leading by example
A mentor should have goals for the mentee, but no solid expectations. Some Mentoring for Success Program participants are only a short step away from high school and may not be completely ready to begin living on their own. Expecting a mentee to have an instantaneous transformation from the maturity of a high school student to that of a college student is unrealistic. It is up to the mentor to set the example and demonstrate how to be a successful college student.
Being a Mentoring for Success Program peer mentor is more than just helping out mentees: a mentor’s professional cultivation is also important. A peer mentor must be able to communicate politely and respectfully with supervisors and colleagues, maintain accurate documentation, and attend several staff meetings every semester. This program provides mentors with valuable experience working and behaving professionally, at times simulating real-life environments, in order to prepare them for their work environments after college.
Created by Katrina Snyder, peer mentor training and advising committee member, 2011-12. Last revised by Silmang Sene, peer mentor training and advising committee co-chair, in August 2016.