Sunday, November 6, 2011

Student-Mentor Relationships

Studies indicate that college students who have mentors tend to perform better in college. Mentor-student relationships help students better utilize campus resources, feel less isolated, learn effective study habits, to name just a few of the positive outcomes of these relationships. Programs like UNT's Emerald Eagle Scholars (a program for first-generation college students) employs this idea in order to help first-generation college students get the most out of their college experience. This is particularly significant considering that statistically speaking first-generation college students have a lower completion rate than students who come from families with college graduates. I know as an undergraduate that my relationships with my instructors helped me learn the college ropes and provided encouragement for me to pursue graduate studies. As an instructor myself, I want to ask y'all:

1. Do you have any mentors? If so, did you meet your mentor through a particular program or was it more random than that? Is your mentor an instructor, staff member, upper-classman?
2. Do you find it easy or difficult to develop relationships with your instructors? Why or why not? Is it even worth it to you?

17 comments:

  1. No, unfortunately I don't have any mentors. My situation is a little different since I didn't enroll in college until I was 22. I find it difficult to develop relationships with my instructors for a couple of different reasons. Supporting myself and just being able to pay for school requires so much dedication to working that I have often found it difficult to create the time to establish such a relationship. It also just feels a little awkward to me now that I'm wrapping up the last of my basics and more than one of my instructors are my age. I've always thought as a mentor as an older, wiser individual, not just someone that has experienced what you are going through and it is tough to get out of that mindset.

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  2. Just like Lee said above me, I don't have any mentors. I wish I did sometimes just to have that one person to talk to about the college life. I do have upperclassmen friends but I wouldn't consider them my mentors. I will see about getting one next semester because sometimes college gets hard and frustrating. I think it will help me in the long run.

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  3. No, I do not currently have any mentors. I have never really thought about getting one, since I am usually on top of my classes, but I am only in my second year of college; things may change.

    I find it much more difficult to develop relationships with my instructors in college. In high school, my teachers saw me almost every day, and there were never more than 30 people per class. Therefore, it made it much easier to learn who I was and what I was interested in doing. In college, someone could be in a class with 499 other people. It is highly unlikely the professor will know who you are, even if you introduced yourself last class. The environment is completely different. I am friends with a few teachers from my high (and even junior and elementary) school on Facebook. We talk and ask each other what is new. I have been to their house, and vice versa. It is very normal to me. However, I would most likely never develop these relationships with my current college instructors, at least until I delve deeper into my major-based classes. Odds are, I will never see them again after the semester, so why bother? In high school, the campus was much smaller, so I would have greater chances of running into them in the hallways or something. It would be a rarity if that happened with my college professors.

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  4. I have never had a mentor. However, I have good relationships with all of my professors, I find it easy to develop relatioships with my professors when they have a sense of humor, because it makes me feel comfortable if I need to approach them for any reason. A tool that helps me ensure that I will have a good professor before I sign up for a class is looking at their reviews on ratemyprofessor.com. I have been using ratemyprofessor for the past 3 years and I have to say that this tool is extreamly helpful and has never let me down : )

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  5. I actually do have a mentor, I got her through the Emerald Eagle program. It requires us to have one and meet with them at least once a month. My mentor is an upper-classman and she is actually pretty cool. I mean we only meet once a month, so I can't really say it's made a world of a difference but it's cool to have someone that you can talk to or ask for advice with them having experience. As far as my instructors I find it a little more challenging to develop relationships like mentors; not so much in high school because that was kind of more personal but college is different.

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  6. My mentor is Gayla Byerly, one of the librarians at the Willis Library. Having a mentor on campus is awesome, because I have someone I can go to with all of my college related questions. She has helped me figure out a career path, and supported my future plans for college. She's recommended teachers that she thinks are the best, and has given me advice when it comes to which classes I should take. Meeting with her has helped me stay on track so that I can be successful in the future. I've found it really difficult to develop relationships with my instructors, especially in the larger classes that I'm taking. In high school it was always really easy to get to know the teacher, but now it's incredibly difficult. If anyone has any advice on how to go about getting to know the professors when it comes to larger classroom settings, I would really appreciate it!

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  7. I don't have any mentors either. I think it's a really great idea, though. For the most part I just ask upperclassmen that I'm friends with all the questions I have or I just don't ask anyone. It would be really nice to have a person I could go to with my questions that I knew I wasn't bothering. I haven't developed relationships with my instructors either, but it's my first semester and for the most part my classes are huge, so it really doesn't seem possible.

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  8. @Shannon Baughmann - Gayla Byerly is so very nice! What a good choice in mentors!
    I don't have a mentor this semester...I had one my first year at UNT through the on-campus ministry I am a part of, but she graduated and moved away, which made it difficult to keep in touch with that close of a relationship. I have always found it's easier to find a person through a church or ministry who is willing to be a mentor, than it is to find one who is willing to be a mentor for school or in a profession on is interested in.
    As for building relationships with professors, I have never had a relationship with the older, established professors. It is easier to build a relationship with your TA, or even the professors who are still getting their masters degrees. Maybe I just haven't had a class that I was interested enough in to seek out that relationship, but I think they are hard to come by.

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  9. I think that is it always a good idea to build relationships with your instructor. My mentor comes in form of my father who has always taught me hard work pays off and to provide by any means necessary. I feel it is easier to become friends with your TA rather than an older professor just because there recently finished with there undergraduate degrees and can relate more to me personally as the education system has changed a lot in recent years.

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  10. When I attended college for the first time at Texas A&M, I did not initially develop relationships with any of my teachers. But then I had a history professor who treated me with respect and spoke to me without condescension. I dropped out of college for several years, but he came into the restaurant where I worked. Every time he saw me, he remembered me and continually asked when I would be going back to school. Despite the fact that I barely passed his class, he offered to write for me a recommendation letter for my re-acceptance to A&M. Even though I never took him up on his offer, I feel that he played a role in my eventually getting back into school.
    I think that it is often difficult to develop these types of relationships until you realize what you want to study. Then you begin to see instructors in your field of study as future colleagues, rather than obstacles to your progress or just enjoyment.

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  11. I have two mentors, one that was assigned to me through UNT serves, so she works here at UNT, and one that I sort of found myself in high school. The one I discovered myself I go to for almost anything. I know she is there for me, and will answer any questions I have and guide me in the right direction. I feel it is very easy to maintain a relationship with your instructors, because since my dad is an educator that is they type of person I am used to being around with. I am much core comfortable around adults, so it seems simple to be friends with an instructor/professor/teacher.

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  12. I had a mentor last year that was assigned to me through the Emerald Eagle Scholars program. I never met her a day in my life but we emailed one another. It was not very often either. I tried to meet with her once and she told me I didn't need to. It was weird. I wasn't sure what to do or how to go about it and to this day I still know nothing about her besides her name and she apparently was my mentor. In terms of relationships with an instructor I have yet to make a true relationship with an instructor. Most of my classes are too large to even fathom it. And the classes that are small enough to create one the instructor has no interest in making relationships for whatever reason they have. They are just there to teach and that is all. It is kind of sad because I have liked a couple of my instructors although I will say that what would happen after the class is over if we had developed a relationship? Am I to expect we can go out every Thursday night to Fry Street for a sandwich and a couple of drinks or what? I don't know..

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  13. This being my first semester, I haven't really build any major relationships with any of my teachers or have any mentors. Sometimes I wish I did have one because I can be a big scatterbrain sometimes. I feel like a mentor would definitely help me stay on track. I think it depends on how quickly one can build relationships with their professor. Certain personality types click with one another. There are also those professors that are extremely open or reserved, and the same goes for students. It all depends on their personality types.

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  14. I think that it is very important to develop a positive relationship with your instructor. This makes it much easier to talk to them when you have a problem and it also makes the classroom setting much more comfortable and relaxed. I think our COMM1010 class is a perfect example everyone is so comfortable in the class and that makes for much more interesting discussions and for a fun environment.

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  15. I really don't have any mentors outside of my family, and the main mentor that i do have is my mom. She's a huge inspiration to me considering she has an eye disease that doctors predicted would've made her blind by the time that she was 16, but it didn't and she was able to make it all the way to college with the little, and poor eyesight that she had, and on to of that graduate from grad school with a 4.0.I am in the process of getting a mentor that is outside my family from my church that i attend and i met them through the church and they are in graduate school here at UNT. I find it semi easy to make develop relationships with my instructor, a lot depends on it though. if the instructor is approachable then i find it easy, and fun to develop a relationship with them but if not its hard for me to want to do so.

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  16. 2. I always find it difficult to develop a relationship with my professors. Firstly, it always feels like I am sucking up to them and trying to win some extra points rather than if I am actually taking an interest regardless of my sincerity. I am also in a class room to learn rather than hear someone constantly ask the professor questions about personal interests and do not want to be the person that does that either. Instead I think it is much more effective to attend office hours to ask follow up questions about the lecture and ask more internal questions there. For me, it will be very worth it to build relationships with my professor. I plan on attending medical school and to get there, I am going to need some very good letters of recommendation.

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  17. I think its very difficult to try to develop a relationship with an instructor. There are different factors in such things that make it difficult to actually be a friend or mentor. Age, gender, lines of reasonable contact? the list goes on. It would be nice if it were easier but i don't believe it is.

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