What to Look for in a High School Mentoring Program
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Many guidance counselors give great advice, but some do not. Ling Ritter realized this firsthand, when her guidance counselor advised her to remove reach schools from her list after she was rejected from her first-choice college, where she had applied early decision. She didn’t listen, and ended up being accepted to 13 of the 17 schools to which she applied.
Now, as a CollegeVine Mentor, Ling helps high school students navigate the road to college. “I now understand that there are ways mentors can help students authentically maximize their strengths in order to stand out in the applicant pool,” she says.
Check out Teen Vogue to read Ling’s story about her experience.
What Is a Mentoring Program?
Mentoring programs come in many different forms. Most generally involve mentors (people who are talented in their areas or disciplines) helping mentees — often, but not always, younger people who are looking to improve in these areas. If mentors are successful, they can play a strong hand in shaping their mentees’ futures.
Near peers, individuals who are close in age, can be powerful role models for younger students. In our Mentorship Program, college students help high schoolers discover their interests, develop significant self-motivation, and become high performers before their senior year.
Near peers can also assist mentees in specific areas, such as college applications. Our Applications Guidance Program matches current college students with high school students to guide them through all aspects of the admissions process.
Why not just go to your guidance counselor?
Ling’s story makes it clear why sometimes guidance counselors might not offer the support high school students need. Depending on the size of your high school, some guidance counselors are responsible for so many students that it can be difficult to give individual cases the attention they deserve.
Moreover, current college students may simply be better suited to understand the admissions game because they recently went through it. They know what worked for them, and can help you figure out what will work for you. Additionally, as recent high school graduates, they know the types of issues many students face, since they aren’t so far removed from the experience themselves.
Mentorship isn’t solely about getting you into college. It also helps you grow as a person and student and develop unique talents and interests.
Is a mentoring program for me?
Mentors can come in all different forms. While they are often older than you, as we describe in The Surprising Benefits of Being Mentored by Both Young and Older Students, younger mentors can have a lot to offer as well. They can vary in other respects, too; for instance, some may meet with you in person, while others may assist you remotely.
Just as mentors differ, there may be many types of reasons for seeking an academic mentor. Perhaps you have an individual who helps you personally, but you’d like guidance focused on academics. Maybe you’re looking for a role model. Or there could be a specific talent you’re looking to cultivate, and want to discover new interests. Whatever your motivation is, if you want guidance during your high school years — guidance that will ultimately set you up for college and career success — a mentorship program may be the way to go.
How should I prepare for the program?
Before you begin a mentorship program, there are many factors you should consider. It’s important to go in with an open mind and willingness to trust your mentor; that’s the only way the relationship will work. You also need to take the program seriously; do the work, and listen to the advice your mentor offers.
You also need to manage your expectations. Go in with some ideas about what you’d like to gain from the experience, and understand that your mentor isn’t going to change your life overnight. Remember: Your mentor isn’t going to do the work for you, but instead will guide you along the way and assist you in doing it yourself.
That said, quite frankly, a mentor could literally change your life. But that will only happen if you make a serious investment and commitment in the process.
Are mentoring programs successful?
Mentoring programs can be very successful when both individuals make the commitment to working on the relationship together.
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!
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