Black male professor showing Black female student, yellow shirt book in library

How Students Can Find Supportive Mentors in College

Finding supportive mentors in college is crucial to any student's academic success. Here's who to look for and how to connect with them.

Growing up, you likely had people around you to offer guidance: coaches, teachers, parents, etc. Now that you’re heading to college, it may be less obvious who you can go to for help. Being academically successful in college should be your main goal—and finding the right supportive mentors on campus is the best way to achieve academic success. Here’s an idea of who to go to for support in college and how to connect with them.

Make a professor your mentor

Talking with a professor may seem intimidating, especially if you have large classes. However, research shows that connecting with a professor is one of the most significant predictors of college satisfaction and academic success. It will help you feel more connected to your college’s community and academic life. 

How to connect with a professor

  • Identify a professor who seems approachable and brainstorm some conversation starters. It could be questions you have about the class, a topic that interests you related to the course material, or a question about academic life (i.e., thoughts on your particular major).
  • Find out when that professor has office hours and show up! You can also email your professor to schedule an appointment or approach them after class. 
  • Some colleges and universities also have faculty living in the residence halls. You may see them with their families in the common areas or outside your building. This is a great opportunity to strike up a conversation with a friendly faculty member.  

Related: 6 Simple Ways to Impress Your College Professors

Know which administrators do what

College administrators are there to help you succeed—even beyond academics. There are several administrator positions on college campuses that you may not be familiar with, so here’s a list of administrators and how you can reach out to them. 

  • Academic advisors: Every college will assign students academic advisors. They may be a professor or a college administrator (or you may receive both). Your academic advisor may reach out to you to schedule next semester’s courses, so be sure to check your email regularly! 
  • Resident directors: Resident directors are adults who live in the residence halls. They supervise the resident assistants/advisors (RAs), the upperclassman mentors who plan programming for your dorm. They’ll run hall meetings and are an excellent resource for learning more about being involved on campus. 
  • Academic and career centers: Other administrators you may encounter include those who run other student resources on campus, like a math or writing center. Career centers may also have programs for first-year students. If you need help establishing a routine for your mental health, you may want to reach out to your college’s mental health counselors. 

Related: Mentors: Why They Rock and Where to Find Them 

How to connect with college administrators

  • Schedule an appointment—most administrators are happy to meet with students one-on-one. 
  • Attend campus programs! Colleges offer large events like guest speakers or small workshops on time management topics. Attending programs and events is a great way to meet administrators. 
  • You may come across friendly college administrators in your daily routine. You’ll meet club advisors at organization meetings, coaches if you play a sport, clergy if you attend religious services, instructors at the recreation center if you attend fitness classes. By looking at the adults you see in your everyday life, you can find the people it would be helpful to connect with.  

Find a peer mentor

Finding a peer mentor who has “been there, done that” is an essential resource for your academic success. It can take some of the small stressors away, allowing you to focus on school. And while they may not be your typical “adult” support, other students will know your college and the atmosphere better than anyone else to guide you.

How to connect with a peer mentor

  • Look at the mentors you may already know: orientation leaders, resident assistants, teaching assistants, etc. If you’re not connecting with those individuals, ask them if they could introduce you to other students who share your interests.
  • Talk to older students in your classes. What do they know about the professor? What other classes have they taken that they’ve found interesting? 
  • Meet up with students from your high school or state.  

Related: 5 Ways to Build Rapport With People

Heading off to college may feel like you’re leaving all of your support systems behind, but by identifying the people waiting to support you when you get there, you’ll be one step ahead in ensuring your academic success. Get out there and good luck!

For more tips on being successful in college, check out our Majors and Academics or Student Life sections.

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About Katherine Price

Katherine Price

Katherine Price is the founder of College Mindset, a company in which Katherine uses her experiences as a former admission officer and student affairs professional to develop a student-centered approach to college counseling. Katherine also helps students develop valuable life skills while navigating the college application process. When she isn’t working with students, she mentors new Independent Educational Consultants to help them build a college counseling curriculum that provides the right amount of challenge and support for students. 

 

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