Finding Community, Plans for Holiday Breaks, and Performance Check-In
A common barrier to persistence in alternate pathway programs is a lack of a sense of belonging or satisfaction within one's program or place of employment. Pairs should use this month's meeting to discuss this important topic. Additionally, it's never too soon to talk about plans for the holiday breaks. Finally, pairs should make sure to discuss program performance and revisit the topic of transfer support.
Discussion Topic #1- Finding Community
Often times, students don't complete post-secondary pathways because they do not feel connected to a community in their program or place of employment. Particularly, for students of color, issues of racism (institutional, implicit, and blatant acts of racism), can lead to feelings of loneliness, disengagement, and a belief in imposter syndrome- the notion that they don't belong in predominately white institutions of higher learning. To set themselves up for success, students should explore engaging with at least one organization while also cultivating a group of supportive peers with similar goals. Use this time for mentors to share their experience, followed by mentees sharing their goals and activities to be engaged in the larger community in their program or pathway.
Mentors Start by sharing how you developed your community in college. Share the following with your mentee:
- During your first semester, where did you spend most of your time? Where on campus did you feel most comfortable? Why?
- During your first year in college, where and how did you establish your friends/community?
- Did you ever feel a sense of isolation or loneliness? If so, how did you respond?
- What value did you find in being engaged with your community on campus? What, if anything, would you do differently?
Mentees Start by sharing your thoughts or reflections on your mentor shared. Next, share the following with your mentor:
- Do you spend time with peers in your program or place of employment?
- Do you feel like you've been able to establish a sense of belonging in your program/place of employment? Why? Why not?
- Are there any student or peer organizations in your program? Are there professional development opportunities or other ways to engage with peers in your program or place of employment?
- What about establishing relationships with peers with goals similar to yours? Have you found any study or interest groups that you would like to explore?
- Are there any goals you want to set to achieve before the end of the year? What steps can you take to make sure you stay engaged on campus?
Mentors: close the discussion by reflectingon what has been shared. Share any additional suggestions for next steps, including accessing supports on campus. Remember to reach out to your program manager to request any immediate support needs.
Discussion Topic #2 Plans for Holiday Breaks
Mentees Take the lead for this part of the meeting by sharing your goals and plans for your holiday breaks. Although it may seem like a long time away, it will be here soon. The earlier you can discuss and make plans, the more likely you are to achieve your goals. Share the following with your mentor:
- What type of break will you have for the holidays (Thanksgiving and Christmas)? If away from home, will you return home during break?
- If working, will you have time off to spend with family and friends? If not, have you spoken with your employer about options for taking time to enjoy the holidays?
- Do you need to take any exams or complete any coursework during break? If yes, have you spoken to your program advisor, supervisor, etc.? How can your mentor and program manager support you?
- Outside of work and school, what do you hope to accomplish during your break? How can your mentor and program manager support you?
Mentors: close the discussion by reflecting on what has been shared. Share any additional suggestions for next steps. Share how you can serve as an accountability partner to help your mentee. Remember to update your program manager and/or reach out with any immediate support needs.
Discussion Topic #3- Performance Check-In and Transfer Support
As a continuation of last month's discussion on program performance, pairs should take this time to discuss finishing strong before the holidays. Mentees should take the lead by sharing their thoughts, goals and the steps they need to take to be successful.
As you discuss, think back to previous discussions about accessing resources and revisit these important topics: meeting with a program advisor or supervisor and visiting any available student support services for additional academic or other support.
- How do you feel you are doing in your program or place of employment?
- Are you experiencing any challenges with transportation or housing?
- Do you need emergency financial support? Reach out to your PSP Program Manager about the iMentor Emergency Fund?
- Have you completed any exams or received any performance reviews?
- Have you spoken with your program advisor or supervisor to make sure you are on track to meet program or employer requirements?
- Are you taking advantage of any program or employer provided services (academic, financial, health and wellness)?
- If you are receiving any form of financial aid, are you meeting the requirements you must meet to maintain eligibility?
- What other concerns, if any, do you have related to your program or employer?
- Are you considering applying to a two or four year college? Start by reviewing the resources below and establish 2-3 things you can do to start planning now.
Close the discussion by making a list of follow-up items for your next check-in. Remember to reach out directly to your Program Manager for support!