Here is a checklist of mentor tasks for the fall semester of freshman year. Click here to download and print out your checklist:
✔ Be patient as you adjust to mentoring after high school:
( ) Reach out regularly, even if you don’t always hear back from your mentee. If you don’t hear back for a while, read iMentor’s tips for reconnecting.
✔ Continue to support your mentee to meet key deadlines:
( ) Use your mentee’s college website to find out about key dates in the academic calendar, including the drop/add deadlines and exam schedule. Check in with your mentee around these dates (in addition to more regular communication).
( ) Make sure your mentee resubmits their FAFSA soon after it becomes available on October 1st.
✔ Support your mentee emotionally as they adjust to college:
( ) Let your mentee know that it’s normal to struggle. Research shows that students who understand that everyone is having a hard time feel a stronger sense of belonging and more willingness to persist.
( ) Remind your mentee about their specific strengths and encourage them to get involved in activities that they like and that make them feel good.
✔ Support your mentee’s academic success.
( ) Learn about the differences between high school and college. Share your own stories of academic failure or struggle, and ask your mentee what campus services - including office hours, tutoring, and the writing center - they are using.
( ) Send a “you can do it” text or inexpensive care package to motivate your mentee through exams. Share resources to help your mentee study for exams and make a exam home-stretch schedule.
( ) Learn about what it takes to transfer. It may feel too early to think about transferring, but not all community college classes will transfer as credits to 4 year colleges. That’s why it’s important to learn about the transfer timeline and articulation agreements.
How is college?
What classes are you taking? What’s the best one? Which do you like the least?
How does college compare to what you thought it would be like? What’s better? Is there anything that’s worse?
Did you get a syllabus for all of your classes? Did the professors put the office hours on their syllabus?
Have you met with your academic advisor? How was it?
- Did your advisor talk to you about what classes can transfer to a 4 year college, and which classes won’t transfer?
- What’s campus life/culture like? Have you connected with any organizations or groups?
- Are the students different from, or similar to, the students at your high school?
- Do you have exams coming up? How are you feeling about them?
Whether your mentee is still living at home, or has gone away to college, the first semester of college will be dramatically different than high school.
In addition to higher academic expectations, college demands a radically different level of self-motivation, time-management and willingness to seek help than high school. As a result, even students who were very successful in high school may have a hard time adjusting. Nevertheless, helping students to improve their GPAs is critical to college persistence and success (Adelman, 1999; 2006; Hu & St. John, 2001; Kahn & Nauta, 2001; Tinto, 1975; Titus, 2004).
No matter whether students are commuting or living at school, they will most likely need to adjust to a new social situation. For many students, the freedom and chance to meet other students can be very exciting. However, students who live away from home may experience homesickness, culture shock, conflict with roommates, and/or impostor syndrome. Students who commute may feel disconnected from the life of campus and struggle to maintain motivation.
As a mentor, you can share resources, listen to your mentee, and let them know that all of these feelings and experiences are normal and nothing to be ashamed of. It’s also important to remember that first semester college students are extremely busy and focused on their lives as college students. It is common for mentees to fall out of touch during the busiest part of the semester, even when they have strong bonds with their mentor.