By the second year of college, your mentee will likely need less help and support, but you still have important mentoring tasks. Here is your mentor to-do checklist for the second year of college. Click here to download and print out your checklist:
✔Continue to build your relationship with your mentee.
( ) Reach out regularly - even if your mentee does not always respond. Notes of encouragement and inexpensive care packages go a long way toward making someone feel supported.
( ) Use iMentor’s goal-setting project to learn about your mentee’s goals so you can support them most appropriately.
✔Celebrate and encourage your mentee’s academic success.
( ) Ask your mentee to reflect on what they learned freshman year about being a successful college student. Help them notice the progress they have already made, and set goals for the coming year.
( ) Talk to your mentee about choosing a major, and share your own experiences with choosing a major.
( ) Continue to share resources about academic strategies for success, from visiting the writing center to participating in class discussions to creating a study schedule for exams.
✔Support your mentee with their financial planning and scholarship efforts.
( ) Check in with your mentee about renewing their FAFSA when it becomes available on October 1st.
( ) Now that your mentee has (or is about to) declare a major, more career- and major-specific scholarships will become available. Offer to research new scholarships and help your mentee apply.
( ) Offer to help your mentee research scholarships and financial aid for studying abroad.
✔Continue to support your mentee in adjusting socially and emotionally to college life.
( ) Ask your mentee about the differences between this year and last year to help them notice all of the ways that they have already adapted.
( ) If your mentee is in a new living situation, ask about how things are going with their roommate(s) and share resources for managing roommate conflict.
( ) Ask your mentee about their extracurricular activities, and encourage their leadership in campus clubs and organizations.
( ) Research study abroad programs and encourage your mentee to consider the possibility of studying abroad.
✔Encourage and support your mentee to develop their professional connections and aspirations.
( ) By sophomore year, students should seek summer internships and opportunities that can help them not just earn money, but also professional experience and contacts. By February, offer to help your mentee research summer opportunities (and ways to make money during an unpaid internship).
( ) Ask your mentee about the professionals they feel closest to on campus. Share this video and encourage them to develop professional contacts on campus through office hours, clubs, and advisors.
Starter discussion questions for sophomore year:
How does it feel to be back at school?
What is one thing you feel more comfortable with or confident about this semester? What’s one thing you know how to do that you didn’t know last year?
What’s your favorite class so far? What’s your least favorite class?
What would you most like to accomplish this semester?
Who are your three favorite adults - professors, advisors, etc. - on campus?
Do you know what you’re planning to major in? Will you get a new advisor when you declare your major?
Have you renewed your FAFSA yet?
Do you want help researching scholarships?
Have you heard of sophomore slump? Do you know anybody who seems like they’re experiencing it?
How is your new roommate?
Are you planning to study abroad next year? Do you want help researching scholarships or programs?
Do you want to meet up over the break?
Do you know what you want to do this summer? Who on campus can help you figure it out? Do you want some help doing research?
Key takeaways/Persistence Milestones:
As your mentee moves into their sophomore year, they may feel more confident and accomplished. They may also experience ‘sophomore slump,’ the phenomenon of second year college students who expect to come back strong, and then struggle with the pressures of choosing a major and beginning to define their careers- all without the supports accorded to freshmen.
To help your mentee navigate these new challenges, it’s important to help them notice and build on what they learned their freshman year about being a successful college student. In particular, students who are connected - to peers, to extracurricular activities, and to professors - not only set themselves up for career success, but are more likely to persist in college (Berger & Milem, 1999; Kuh et al., 2008; Pascarella & Terenzini, 1980; Titus, 2004).
In addition to academic and social support, mentees are entering a new phase of college in which they will need to declare a major and begin to the lay the groundwork for their careers. In this arena, too, campus connections are vitally important, but as a mentor who has known the student for a long time, you can play a unique role in helping them think about their strengths and interests, as well as helping students research opportunities - from internships to career-specific scholarships to study abroad programs - encouraging them to take advantage of these opportunities.
As students move into their sophomore year and beyond, their needs will become more and more individualized, depending on their situations and goals. It’s important to continue to build your relationship so that when they need support, you will be there.