Everything You Need to Know
What is Mentoring?
Mentoring can describe a number of different relationships across a broad number of domains. The Webster definition of mentor is: “someone who teaches or gives help and advice to a less experienced and often younger person”.
In college and university settings, a large variety of mentoring programs exist with different aims and goals. They all have a commonality: a staff or faculty member advising, encouraging and supporting a student in a one-to-one relationship. This relationship promotes growth and development, both personal and academic.
Educational research has consistently shown the positive effects of student-faculty interaction on learning and student retention (McKinsey, 2016). In one study, those who felt most engaged in their work and who felt the greatest sense of well-being had faculty in college who made them “excited about learning”, cared about them “as a person”, or served as “a mentor who encouraged them to pursue their goals and dreams” (Ray & Kafka, 2014).
What is Mentoring at Dawson College?
Here at Dawson College, the mentoring relationship serves primarily to ease a student’s transition to college life. The program is intended for first-year students, but is open to all students who feel they might benefit from such an experience. The goal of the mentoring relationship is to establish open, trusting communication enabling students to recognize and talk about their needs so they can better reach their full potential. The mentor and mentee develop a helping relationship through mutually-agreed upon meetings. When meeting, the mentee is free to discuss preoccupations about college life, seek advice about navigating the transition to college, become acquainted with the many services and resources at the college, and simply have a friendly person to meet during their first months here.
- Faculty/staff members wishing to become mentors can sign up for the program here: https://www.dawsoncollege.qc.ca/counselling/apply-to-be-a-new-mentor/
- Students wishing to have a mentor can sign up for the program here: https://www.dawsoncollege.qc.ca/counselling/apply-to-be-a-mentee/
- Once the mentor has been paired with a mentee, they will receive an email informing them of each other’s name and contact information. The mentor is then expected to contact their mentee and arrange a meeting somewhere on campus at a time suitable to both individuals. It is good practice to be clear about the meeting length ahead of time.
The First Meeting
There are some important items which should be discussed at the first meeting:
- Introductions and small talk (see Conversation Starters below for ideas)
- Discuss the purpose of the mentoring relationship and what each expects from it. Students will come to the Mentoring Program with vastly different expectations so it’s good to clarify these.
- Discuss the various student services and resources that exist at the college: https://www.dawsoncollege.qc.ca/new-students/
- Read and sign the Mentor-Mentee Agreement and send it back to us via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or internal mail (Mary Ann Darkowski, Counselling Department, 2D.2)
- The Mentor-Mentee Agreement can be found here: https://www.dawsoncollege.qc.ca/counselling/mentor-mentee-agreement/
- Decide on frequency and length of the meetings and stress the importance of contacting each other in the event of a cancellation. It is recommended to plan out the first few meetings ahead of time.
- Conversation Starters
- The mentor’s role and years of experience at the college,
- The student’s experience at Dawson College and any preoccupations they may have,
- Hobbies and interests of the mentor and mentee,
- The student’s chosen program of study and career ideas and how to be informed: https://www.dawsoncollege.qc.ca/counselling/career-education-planning/
- The mentor’s educational and career journey.
- Decide on the frequency, duration and times of your meetings. It is recommended you schedule a few meetings during your first encounter. Afterwards, some will prefer to carry on scheduling regular meetings while others will prefer to schedule meetings as needed.
- There are no set number of meetings you are required to have.
- You may find your meetings become shorter with time – this is normal and may mean the student is acclimatizing well to Dawson!
- During the course of the school year, your meetings may naturally stop or you may decide together they are no longer needed.
Confidentiality and Boundaries
- It is important the mentee feel secure with their mentor. This is achieved in part by ensuring sensitive information exchanged during the course of your meetings remains confidential. This is made explicit in the Mentor-Mentee Agreement which you both sign at the first meeting.
- Clear boundaries are needed in the mentoring relationship. While there are casual and friendly elements involved, it is important to remember that this is still a formal relationship in the context of the student’s educational experience. In order to help preserve these boundaries, we ask the following:
- All meetings take place on campus
- Limit your email/phone exchanges to daytime hours and be mindful about their frequency and duration
- The moment you feel uncomfortable with an aspect of the mentoring relationship contact the coordinators for advice and guidance.
- At times, mentees may go through difficult patches and mentors may feel ill-equipped to deal with the issues they are presented. Difficult issues may include, but are not limited to, serious mental health issues, family problems, addictions, etc. In these instances it is very important to refer the mentee to the Counselling Department so they may be seen by a psychologist. Mentors are welcome to escort their mentees to the Counselling Department (2D.2).
- If the mentor is very worried about their mentee and the mentee is resistant to seek counselling, please contact the coordinators immediately. In the rare and exceptional event a mentor detects imminent risk to their mentee or to others, they should not hesitate to contact emergency services.
For all questions, concerns, and problems regarding the Mentor Program, please contact the coordinators so we may assist you. It will be our pleasure to help you – that’s why we are here!