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Welcome to the Mentor Learning Center

Reflecting on the semester with your mentee

The semester just ended, and mentees can view their first semester grades and exam results. This is a great opportunity for them to reflect on how well they're doing, and if they earned the grades they were expecting. 

Sometimes, students know exactly how they are doing in their courses. But sometimes, their grades may catch them by surprise, particularly since college has such different expectations than high school. 

Starting a new semester gives your mentee the opportunity to learn from their experience, and make adjustments.  Perhaps they need to study more, select different courses, or try a different system for balancing commitments and priorities.  In some cases, low grades may have implications for academic standing and scholarship eligibility.

In addition to being a time for reflection, a new semester offers an opportunity to examine plans for the future.  College is a growth experience.  Not only is your mentee learning about how to balance classes, work, and personal commitments, they are learning about their own interests and aspirations. Perhaps your mentee's career interests have changed, or maybe they discovered a subject that will open up a new path.  

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Prompts for Communication:

Here are some ideas for questions or conversations starters you can use to open a discussion and support your mentee in reflecting on their semester. 

  • What were your grades?  Grades are the obvious way to evaluate how you did academically.  If they were terrific, congratulations! Make sure to celebrate.  If they were less than you hoped for, think about why, and check out this video about turning it around.  What lessons did you learn about doing college level work?  What did you learn about expectations? What did you learn about your study habits and abilities?  What can you do differently next time?
  • What classes did you love the most?  Why?  How can you build on this?  Are there new areas you now think you’d like to explore?
  • What classes did you hate?  Why?  Are these areas you’ll be able to steer away from?  Do you need to adjust your attitude or strengthen your background?  Don’t just let this go.  Think about why you disliked these classes and what you can do.
  • What worked well this semester?  Consider this question both in and out of the classroom.  What did you really like/enjoy this semester?
  • What didn’t go well?  Why?
  • If you had the semester to do over again, what would you change?  What would you do differently?  (Make sure you are thinking about things under your control.  What would you do differently?)
  • How do you feel about your social life?  Friends?  Activities?  Are they helping you be the person you want to be or getting in the way?  Do you need to consider any changes?
  • How involved were you on campus?  How often did you leave campus on the weekends?  Do you need to stay more?  Get away more?  Do you need to get involved more?  Do you need to do less in order to focus more or spend more time studying/with family/taking care of yourself?
  • Did you have a job? Are you balancing school and work?
  • Were there any surprises this semester?  Why did that surprise you?  What can you do with that information?
  • Were there any disappointments?  Why?  Can you do anything to prevent future disappointments?
  • What have you discovered about yourself this semester?  What’s different about you now than at the beginning of the term?
  • What strengths do you have that you hadn’t realized?  Can you build on those?
  • What weaknesses have you discovered?  Do they matter?  Can you work on those?
  • If you had to sum it up in one sentence, what is the biggest lesson that you’ve learned this semester?  Now that you know that, what can you do with that information?

The New Year is all about resolutions, looking forward to the future, setting goals, and making plans.  But goals and plans should be built on the solid foundation of understanding the past.  As a mentor, you can guide your mentee to think about evaluating the lessons of this past semester in order to build on them.  The new semester is a clean slate, a new start.  

One way to do that is by engaging in reflection yourself: what have you learned about being a mentor to a college student this past semester?  How can you build on that knowledge?  

Adapted from Collegeparentcentral.com