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Learning Center.

Welcome to the Mentor and Mentee Learning Center

The College List

College List

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Key Takeaways: 

  • A well vetted college list ensures that your mentee will apply to options that are right for them. Research shows that students are more likely to drop out or transfer out of their post-secondary options if they choose a place that was not the right fit for them. 
  • Your mentee may have a clear idea on what they want in their post-secondary option or they may not. This is a process and all mentees move at a different pace. No matter where your mentee is in their thinking, the process of creating a list will urge your mentee to decide on what is important to them.
  • You as a mentor are here to help in the process by being a thought partner in personalizing their fit factors, a researcher of post- secondary options best for your mentee, and an evaluator with your mentee on these options.
Roles for Mentors:
  • Coaches
  • Thought Partner


Understanding FIT Factors 

Academic Fit Factors

As you are researching options for your mentee, consider these two questions related to academic fit:

  1. Does the option have their intended major or academic interest? If your mentee has an intended major or at least an inclination on what they would want to focus on academically, then that is a clear criterion to note. It is perfectly acceptable for your mentee to have multiple majors or academic interests. If your mentee does not know what their major is going to be, that is ok. Many students decide while in college. This is a topic which you can explore together and have conversations to help your mentee come closer to a decision.
  2. How high or low is the graduation rate? If there is a high graduation rate, then that means the option most likely will support and help your mentee throughout their post-secondary path. If there is a low graduation rate, then something is happening that is not setting up students for success.

Student Support Factors

Connected to the graduation rate is another fit factor that focuses on the supports and resources that a post-secondary option will offer. This factor is student support services. This is an important fit factor to consider, because your mentee will need onsite support. Of course, you will continue to be a great resource to help your mentee be successful in their post-secondary life, but it is also vital to have supports available through your mentee’s post-secondary program. As you are researching, you should ask the following question:

  1. Does the option have services, organizations, activities that contribute to your mentee’s ability to do well?
  2. Some examples of supports you can look for are: 
    • Academic: tutoring, writing center, math centers
    • Transition: programs for first generation students, first/freshmen year experience programs, training programs
    • Mental: Counseling offices, support groups
    • Career and jobs: Career Centers which help with obtaining jobs

Size, Location, and Environment Factors

The next fit factor that you should be using to help your mentee research is the size, location, and the environment of the post-secondary option. This factor is mostly based on your mentee’s preference, and self-awareness, and it is important because mentees feel more comfortable and thrive in different settings.

  1. When thinking about the size, your mentee will have to think about whether they would want to be in a small or large population.
    • A large school, meaning about 15,000 or more, in will generally have:
      • Wide variety of majors and courses
      • Well-stocked libraries
      • Variety of housing opportunities
      • Wide range of academic choices and student activities
      • Introductory classes that may contain hundreds of students. Some students find this environment exciting, while others may feel overwhelmed.
    • A small school, meaning about 3,000 or less, in general will have:
      • Small class sizes
      • Individually designed majors
      • Strong advising system; advisers know students well
      • Strong sense of community
      • A smaller variety of majors and courses
  2. Another aspect of this fit factor is how far away from home is the post-secondary option? This is an important question to think about because your mentee will have to think about how they will get to their post-secondary program. If your mentee has a desire to leave the state, they will have to think about how they will get there and the cost of that travel. Even if they plan to stay in the state or in the city, they will have to plan for this.
  3. The last aspect of this fit factor is the environment. The environment focuses on the other opportunities that the program has to offer your mentee that will keep them involved and give them a sense of belonging. Research and history show that mentees who are most successful found connections to their post-secondary option.Environment mostly focuses on your mentee’s identity. As you are researching, you should look for options that include organizations which will connect your mentee with others who share similar interests and identities. Examples:
    • African American Cultural Resource Center
    • LGBTQ Resource Center
    • Women’s Center
    • Latinx Resource centers
    • Asian American Centers

Financial Factors

Financial cost is a critical consideration when choosing a post-secondary option next year. There is financial information that your mentee needs to know before being able to fully understand this factor. This factor answers two questions:

  1. How much does it cost (for class, supplies, books, housing, living expenses) and will I realistically be able to afford it?
  2. How much financial support is available to me?

Creating Balanced Lists 

Fit Factors are personal to your mentee and are a way to find post-secondary options based on their preferences. However, a great way to organize your mentee’s post-secondary list, and where you should start first, is by your mentee’s likelihood of being accepted. There are three categories to consider:

  1. Safety/likely schools - mentee's GPA and SAT scores are above the college's average 
  2. Target schools - mentee's GPA and SAT scores are within the college's average
  3. Reach schools - mentee's GPA and SAT scores are below the college's average

Because these categories are based on your individual GPAs and SAT/ACT scores, each person’s list of safety, target, and reach schools will be different.

Guidance for Feedback

As a mentor, it is important that you do not allow your own bias and judgment to influence your mentee’s choices. This is one of the most challenging aspects of your role as thought partner for your mentee’s post secondary pursuit. You may be tempted to encourage your mentee to research your alma mater—especially if they are qualified and enamored with the stories you’ve shared. 

However, if your mentee’s Fit Factors suggest another option, you will have to counsel them away from a school you feel passionately about, in your mentee’s best interest. Or, you may have joined the program to help a young person graduate from college, but your mentee is committed to the idea of trade school. If trade school is the right career pursuit for your mentee, your role to help him or her, find their highest career aspiration within the industry, and get excited to help them find the right post-secondary education or training to launch a successful career.

Additional Resources 

  • If you mentee does not have a college list:
    • Click here for a worksheet on Academic Match and reach, target, likely.
    • Click here for a video on iMentor Fit Factors.
    • Click here for a video on best practices for postsecondary research with your mentee.
    • Click here for a worksheet you can use with your mentee to research college and postsecondary options.
  • If your mentee does have a college list:
    • Click here for information on how to review your mentee's college list.