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Welcome to the Mentor Learning Center

When your mentee is not in college

Maybe your mentee intended to go to college, and they just . . . didn't make it yet. Or maybe they never intended to go.  

As super-mentor Romana Ryals reports, "people sign up to help someone go to college, and then they encounter a situation like I encountered where that's just not happening right now." Ryals points out that this can lead mentors to feel like they failed, didn't try hard enough, or like they are unnecessary. At the very least, you're now a mentor to a mentee who is not in college, and you're not sure how to help them.

If that's the situation you're in, here are some things to think about:      

1. Acknowledge your own feelings. You may not be able to help your mentee as directly as you did when they were in high school. It can be hard to continue making the effort without a clear objective, but do it anyway, and reach out to your program manager for support.    

2. Focus on your relationship and the long-term. Do activities that you both enjoy, and talk about things that your mentee is interested in. Your relationship may begin to feel more equal at this point. That can be confusing, but it's also a good thing.   

Continue to share relevant resources, whether for budgeting, job-seeking, or career development. You probably don't want to bring up college every week, but it's important for your mentee to know that you still believe in them and that there are opportunities out there.   

Reflect on the people in your life who didn't follow a linear path. Many people simply aren't ready for college right after high school, but they can also become ready.  And applying to college after high school, or building a career without college, can be particularly challenging. Your mentee may not need your help now, but if you have a strong relationship, they will be able to lean on you in the years to come.