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Why Having a Supportive Mentor in College is Essential for Reaching Your Goals

On our adventure through six key college experiences that predict future success, we have covered two: how to find amazing professors and how to build relationships with professors.

Today, we are talking about the importance of having a mentor who encourages you to pursue your personal goals.

There are two parts to this that come together: 1) a mentor and 2) your personal goals.

What is a mentor?

Simply put, a mentor is a guide or adviser. They are someone you trust to give you good advice. Typically, but not always, they are doing what you hope to do someday (think profession like a doctor, teacher, etc.) or are the kind of person you'd like to be (a leader, an advocate).

People often think of mentors in college as professors, and certainly, that is often the case. However, you can think more broadly about who might be a mentor for you. As an academic advisor, I often mentored my students. If you're involved in extracurricular activities (I hope you are - more on that later in the blog series), there may be a coach or other college staff person you connect with. If you work on or off-campus, perhaps your supervisor or a co-worker with more experience makes sense.

Regardless of who it is, having a mentor has many benefits. You learn from them, of course, and with a good mentor, you feel empowered to achieve your goals.

Here are some other common benefits of having a mentor:

  • Increased confidence

  • Expanded network

  • Accountability

  • Constructive feedback

  • Career growth

Your Personal Goals

The second part of the equation is that the mentor encourages you to pursue your personal goals. For this to work, you first need to HAVE goals. Understanding how to set goals that are SMART - specific, measurable, actionable, relevant, and time-bound is critical to your college success. You have to know where you're going to get there, after all. I love this 4-minute video that sums up what SMART goals are all about.

At any given time, you'll likely have goals that fall into these categories:

  • Academic - having a certain GPA this semester or making a specific grade in a class

  • Social - joining 2 extracurricular activities during your first year of college

  • Personal - journaling three times per week

  • Professional - finding an internship for this summer

A Mentor + Your Personal Goals = Increased Success

A mentor can also help you with developing or adjusting goals based on their wisdom and experience. So, don't feel that you need a laminated, beautiful list of goals to show someone when you ask them to be your mentor. Part of the relationship will be self-discovery and realizing the goals you started with may need to change and certainly as you move forward with your college journey, your goals will necessarily change. A mentor may also change - sometimes a mentor may be the best fit for a season, while sometimes a mentor may stay connected with you for many years into the future.

With an encouraging and trustworthy mentor who supports your personal goals, you will experience success - as defined by YOU, not what others think success should be.

College Success Coaching


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