Saturday, 13 February 2016

A mentor to College Life for a First-Year Engineering or Science Student

Mentoring is a very powerful concept and everyone is not lucky enough to have a right mentor. In order to be a good mentor, it is important to know and understand that mentoring is different from coaching, tutoring, counselling and supervising. There are various types of mentoring such as situational, supervisory, and flash mentoring. Irrespective of the type, mentoring provides critical benefits to individuals as well as institutions.

In the context of college or university, most of us would agree that mentoring is aimed to enhance the overall experience of every student. This is more so in the professional courses such as engineering, management, law, architecture etc. A student in the first year of college has to go through a myriad adjustments transitioning from school. From a highly regulated environment to a relatively independent setting, one needs to learn to navigate carefully for a smooth transition. This can be done effectively if one gets a proper mentoring.

A mentor is one who is more knowledgeable and certainly more experienced than the mentee and possesses specific areas of expertise related to the mentee. For a college student, a teacher can be a mentor to help in gaining a better learning experience. One thing that is most crucial in mentoring is listening by the mentor who can give a patient hearing to the mentee, be able to empathize, and remain easily accessible anytime. Mentorship involves providing psychosocial support in an informal setting. The mentee should feel comfortable in confiding with the mentor without any hesitation. The students, in general, have to deal with academic issues as well as interpersonal matters involving relationships in a relatively liberal environment. They also have to meet deadlines for their submissions, take care of their interest in co-curricular and extra-curricular activities while competing for good grades. More often than not the possible solutions to the mentee’s problems lie with the mentee only. The mentor needs to listen patiently and provide the requisite moral support to the mentee. In the absence of a mentor, some may risk losing track, unsettling their peace of mind and creating havoc with an otherwise promising career.

Mentoring is most effective when it involves face-to-face interactions generally over a sustained period of time. The efficacy of mentorship is gauged from the comfort level of the mentee for bringing the best in him/her. Therefore, it assumes a great importance for college students when their career is taking shape and they are building up their skill-set for a professional life ahead. Mentoring can also be vital in promoting life-long learning, a key component of nurturing an excellent professional. An effective mentoring system can lead to creation of future mentors as well.

To begin with, a mentorship program is to be implemented only for the needy ones first as they will receive it with utmost sincerity and benefit tremendously. Others can be included after the initial benefits are known widely. A progressive organization would always have an effective and well-designed mentorship program to help people realize their true potential and create in them a sense of delight and accomplishment.

Dr AK Yadav
Dept of Applied Sciences

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