What to Expect As a Mentor
“It’s truly one of the hardest jobs you will ever love. You become a part of one of the biggest decisions your senior will ever make. You’re a cheerleader, you’re a task master and you are even a surrogate parent. But when your senior finds success in being offered admission to the college of their choice AND there’s money to do it—there’s no greater feeling.”
The following sections outline the benefits, practices, challenges and supports that are part of the mentor experience. It will give you—or any potential mentor—a comprehensive idea of what it means to be a CMP mentor.
- A heart of service
- Patience & understanding
- Problem Solving skills
- Organization skills
- Good communicator
As a CMP Mentor, you will have the benefit of:
- Contributing to the health of our community by increasing the postsecondary education attainment of a critical segment of our young residents. Increased postsecondary education attainment has been linked to increases in community health—including reductions in crime and poverty Once a student has successfully persisted in postsecondary education, she increases the chance her siblings and extended family will take that step as well.
- Experiencing the satisfaction of helping a talented and deserving student. By becoming a CMP Mentor, you will know that you are making an impact on educational equity that improves life-long outcomes for students and families.
- Developing a long-term relationship with a student of promise…
As a CMP Mentor, you will be taking part in the following types of activities:
Meet with your mentee and, on occasion, his family, to discuss postsecondary education and career goals. Many first-generation college students and their families are unaware of the supports available to individuals and families in their situation. A CMP Mentor raises that awareness and teaches students the value and skill of self-advocacy
Assist your mentee in identify colleges that meet his academic, social and financial needs. Deciding where to go involves looking at location, academic programs, majors, class sizes, graduation and employment rates as well as support services offered. CMP Mentors help their mentees wade through the details and make informed choices about where to apply.
Help your mentee navigate the college going process: Completing and submitting successful, high-quality admission applications; Writing personal statements and essays; Obtaining recommendations;Searching for and identifying appropriate financial aid (scholarships, grants); Apply for FAFSA/WASFA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid/Washington Application for Student Financial Aid) & scholarships; Interpreting financial aid offers; Accepting admissions and financial aid packages; Preparing to enter college in the fall. Attend weekly College Mentor Nights (6-8pm, WHS Library) or meet with your mentee on a regular basis at another mutually agreeable time/place.
- Keep track of college and scholarship applications submitted and offers of admissions and financing.
Challenges & Supports
Being a CMP Mentor is not without its challenges. But our program provides multiple levels of support and resources to help you be successful—whether you are a recent college graduate or an alumnus from another decade. It does not hurt, however, to be aware of some of the challenges & supports that come with being a CMP Mentor.
You lack the knowledge about the current college admissions, supporting undocumented students and/or the scholarship application or financial aid processes. Not to fear! We provide a CMP Mentor Orientation and Training that will give you the best tools for helping your mentee, including resource guides and helpful tools, information on college admissions, scholarship applications, FAFSA/WASFA guidelines and how to support undocumented students. In addition, the weekly Monday Mentor Minute gives you an idea of what you should be focusing on with your mentee, timely tools and current deadlines.
If, in the process of working with your student, you run into an issue or question that you don’t have the knowledge to address, the College Mentor Program Coordinator can find the answers and resources to help you out. You ALWAYS have an advocate in the CMP Coordinator. You will NOT be traveling this road alone.
The time required to be a mentor turns out to be more than you were counting on. It’s hard for us to predict how much time your particular mentee is going to need throughout the college admissions process. Typically, mentors need to set aside as least two-three hours a week for face-to-face meetings as well as time for daily updates by text or email. If you’re finding yourself short on time, we can easily support your mentee “by committee,” providing support from the CMP Coordinator, other CMP Mentors or even other mentees. If you need resources or answers to questions, the CMP Coordinator is available to do the legwork to obtain resources, tools or to meet with your mentee. After all, “it takes a village.”
Your mentee lacks follow through and/or discipline. Can’t get them to respond to emails and/or texts? Not showing up for scheduled meetings? Showing up unprepared for your meetings? It’s hard to remain dedicated to their success when it appears they lack the buy in necessary to get through the process. It may be a temporary dip in energy or one that never really went away. The CMP Coordinator is charged with making sure your mentee takes advantage of your volunteer time and does not abuse the privilege. The CMP Coordinator will rally the troops, get counselors and other caring adults involved to get your mentee back on track. On rare occasions, it becomes evident that your mentee may not be ready for the college admissions process and they will be unassigned from you as a mentor. However, we rarely completely abandon mentees but, rather, support them in different ways to find success.
You have a hard time “connecting” with your mentee. It’s difficult to come into a mentoring relationship only to be faced with feeling like you are not making a “connection.” We try to alleviate the “getting to know you” dance by providing you with some background on your mentee (academic and career interests, personal and family background) and giving you an opportunity to get to know them, along with their parents, during an informal Fall Meet and Greet. Our Mentor Resources also include topics around which you and your mentee can have some initial conversations (goals, expectations of relationship, timeline, definition of success). If, after all efforts are exhausted, you still don’t feel like you have a connection, we can reassign both you and your mentee. We want the experience to be a successful one for both of you.