12 Benefits of Near Peer Mentorship
There’s no one road map for success in high school. What works for one student might not work for another, and these unique interests, goals, and priorities lead to broad differences in the life paths of high school graduates.
While some experiences are nearly universal, like studying for final exams or choosing electives, others are highly specific, like competing in an international science fair or starting your own business as a teen. This can make the current system for student guidance and advising less effective than it should be.
After all, how can just a few adults have the expertise and insight to help guide hundreds of unique individuals through their high school years and into their lives post-graduation? This is a question we at CollegeVine have long considered in our quest to provide high-quality college guidance and advice to all students, regardless of their unique backgrounds or interests.
What is Near Peer Mentorship?
A near peer mentor is an older student who has similar interests, goals, and background to you. This mentor is a current college student or recent graduate who has recently gone through the college admissions process and can lend firsthand insight and advice.
Not only can a near peer mentor provide personalized, up-to-date guidance through high school and the college application process, but also he or she can do so with the empathy that only someone who has recently been in your shoes can provide.
You can think of it as similar to having an experienced and successful older sibling, with many similarly knowledgeable friends, who is able to answer questions and lend advice based on real world, recent experiences.
What Are the Benefits of Near Peer Mentorship?
The near peer mentorship model is unique and fairly new to the college admissions world, but it is quickly gaining traction due to its effectiveness. What makes it so effective?
In this post, we’ll outline a dozen unique benefits of a near peer mentorship.
The average high school student spends only 38 minutes of time with his or her guidance counselor over the course of four years. That’s phenomenally little time in which to plan your future. In addition, guidance counselors are often responsible for tracking the progress hundreds of students at a time.
A near peer mentor offers significantly more contact hours through frequent email communication, phone conversations, and even video conferencing. This increased access and communication allows you to build a relationship over time, getting to know and respect one another. With real insight into who you are and where you hope to go, your near peer mentor can provide advice tailored specifically to you—a benefit that traditional guidance counselors cannot offer when they are serving such a broad population of students.
Recent Experience with the Admissions Process
Near peer mentors are current college students or recent graduates. As such, they have gone through the modern and ever-evolving college admissions process very recently. This process is constantly changing, so the insight gained from their recent experiences is invaluable.
Many traditional college advisers have not personally experienced the college admissions process in decades. While they can offer advice based on their experiences through clients, they cannot offer the firsthand knowledge that a successful college student or recent graduate can.
It can be difficult voicing concerns or confiding in a teacher, adviser, or sometimes even a parent. Some high school students worry about impressing the people who will potentially write their college recommendations. Some students see personal questions as a sign of weakness. Others worry that they will be judged.
When you are paired with a near peer mentor who has a similar background to your own, asking questions about managing stress, juggling commitments, or recovering from a disciplinary or academic stumbling point doesn’t have to be intimidating. These are simply the obstacles that high school students face, and most near peer mentors can empathize with your position. An approachable mentor can make a real difference in getting the answers you need, when you need them.
Best of Both Worlds
A near peer mentor is both a mentor and a peer. The level playing field doesn’t just make them more approachable, it also makes their experiences more relevant.
Near peer mentors can offer advice on issues such as who to talk to at school about a problem, how to communicate with teachers, how to prepare for independent living, and how to make friends in college. Their real life experiences provide you with insight that is not usually available to someone who hasn’t gone through them him or herself.
CollegeVine near peer mentors come from a broad range of backgrounds. Our proprietary interest and personality inventory ensures that you are paired with a mentor who can easily relate to your experiences. Whether you are a first-generation college student, have unique learning needs, or identify as a member of an underrepresented minority, we have mentors who have been through similar experiences and can relate to your unique background and its impact on your path to college.
While it’s not possible for anyone to know exactly what it’s like to walk in your shoes, we try to pair students with near peer mentors whose similar interests and experiences prepare them to offer valuable firsthand knowledge, no matter your journey.
Increased Self Esteem
Stress and anxiety in high school are becoming more and more prevalent. It can be easy to feel overwhelmed by all of your commitments.
Hearing success stories from mentors who have been in your shoes can help increase your own self-esteem and ability to look past current stressors and stay focused on the future. While a traditional guidance counselor can easily tell you that you’re capable, a near peer mentor has the ability to share how they made it work, and lend insight into into how you can do it, too.
Many times, teachers and advisers have so many students each year that it’s easy to get lost in the crowd. If this is the case, you might be tempted to fly under the radar.
A near peer mentor will develop a relationship with you built on trust and respect, and will then use that relationship to motivate and hold you accountable as you work towards your goals. You will know that you are working hard with someone else in your corner, so you are more likely to apply yourself and follow through on your commitments.
Learn About College Life
There is only so much you can learn from reading about colleges online and taking formal campus tours. Nothing can compare to the advice available from current or recent college students themselves.
Most adult mentors have not been in college recently enough to speak in much depth about campus life and special considerations like housing, meal plans, and support programs. Near peer mentors can shed light on programs and considerations that you may have never known existed.
Assist With Organization
A near peer mentor will also help you to keep track of important deadlines and requirements. With the help of a near peer mentor, you won’t lose sight of registration dates for standardized tests or reviewing the AP exam schedule in time to account for any testing conflicts. This kind of personalized assistance can’t be found from a traditional guidance counselor, and most parents aren’t familiar enough with the process to stay on top of it themselves. Near peer mentors make it their job to ensure that you don’t overlook these important details.
Sometimes, there is really no substitute for just venting to someone who knows what you’re talking about. Applying to college is stressful. There are many factors to consider, and the ultimate decision is out of your control.
While you can certainly voice complaints and concerns to teachers, friends, and family, there is just something cathartic about the firsthand empathy of a near peer mentor who really does know exactly what you’re talking about.
You may have an older sibling who has been successful in college admissions or a friend who is a year or two ahead. These are great resources to have, but they can’t offer the depth of expertise provided from a formal near peer mentor program.
At CollegeVine, we have a broad base of mentors and consultants who have worked with hundreds of college applicants. The advice you receive from your near peer mentor will be based not only on their own experiences, but also on the collective expertise and data driven insights we have compiled. This type of informed advice is simply not achievable from a single source. That’s why our mentors pool their knowledge to provide you with proven insights into a sometimes puzzling process.
One of the greatest obstacles that many high school students face is overcoming the distance between where they begin and where they see themselves going. Near peer mentors know more than just the end-goal—they know how to get from point A to point B.
Near peer mentors will help to focus your interests, develop your leadership, and build a profile that will ultimately serve you well not only in the college admissions process but also throughout your higher education and beyond. Lending insight into how you can set goals and work strategically towards them is an invaluable life skill, and it’s one that we pride ourselves on developing in students.
Looking for help navigating the road to college as a high school student? Download our free guide for 9th graders and our free guide for 10th graders. Our guides go in-depth about subjects ranging from academics, choosing courses, standardized tests, extracurricular activities, and much more!
For more about planning your college admissions process, see these CollegeVine posts:
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