During the high-school program, your pair communication was anchored by the weekly classes and online communication as well as the monthly in-person Events. After graduation, your communication will become more natural and authentic- but there’s also a big risk of losing touch after high school. As in any relationship you will find a variety of communication methods and topics will help you build and sustain a strong relationship. Here are a few suggestions for how you can strengthen communication with your mentee after high school:
Communicate in a variety of different ways. Texting works for a lot of pairs; using the phone, Facetime, or Google hangouts works for some mentees. Connecting on social media can also help you to be aware of what’s happening in your mentee’s life and ask more relevant questions. Occasionally meeting up in person can also be invaluable for building a deep connection.
Vary the types of questions that you ask; mix open-ended questions such as “how’s it going?” with more specific questions, such as “do you have midterms coming up? How are you feeling about them?” or “Do you like your boss? What are they like?”
Encourage and praise; reminding your mentee about a time they did something hard, or even a simple, “I know you got this!” from someone they trust, can go a long way.
Share your own triumphs and struggles - from back when you were just out of high school and now. It may be easier for your mentee to reach out for help if they know that you failed your first midterm in college or didn’t know how to do your own laundry.
Make specific offers to help; it’s hard for people to respond to open-ended offers of help. It’s easier to respond to specific offers, such as: do you want me to look over your resume? Do you want to make a matriculation plan together? Do you want me to introduce you to some other computer programmers I know?
Balance serious interactions with fun and engaging interactions. Your mentee may be more likely to talk about their goals, grades, or financial struggles if you also talk about their favorite sports team or video game. Sharing pictures (of your family, or their new friends) can be a fun way to connect.