Accessing Mentoring requires the following skills of courage and discernment:
- Discern potential mentors through your skills of review, assessment, and classification.
- Measure mentoring relationships by the production you experience.
- Accept the offer of mentoring by committing to learn, engage, and produce.
Much of adjusting to the cultural difference of college is reorienting yourself to learning. Many students, trained by primary and secondary education, find the school to be a competition for attention and performance scores. Schools have reinforced this through a grading system that hasn’t changed in almost 2 centuries. They have doubled down on it with token systems that reward students at various levels of proficiency, civil conduct, and miscellaneous deeds.
My favorite is the Perfect Attendance award. The idea is that a present student is more productive than an absent student. There is no truth in that statement. What is true is that the school is financially rewarded when attendance is high. The reward system in schools mirrors much in society—a focus on the perception and institutional preservation rather than the intentional training of students. The result is an unintended consequence of students who are only motivated by reward ceremonies, trophies, and admonishment.
This isn’t a real problem until you realize that the system reinforcing this external motivation is meant to facilitate the education or even inspire a love of learning within the student. These students have been primed in the first step toward externalizing responsibility for the education. They are read to perform based on what is requested of them rather than to learn and innovate based on the problems they are faced with.
Why You Don’t Know Mentoring
In addition to a reorientation to learning, mentoring asks you to reorient yourself to the professionals engaged in teaching, research, and scholarship. I admit that it’s a challenging task for a late-Teen to comprehend and implement. But, I would argue that you have been doing it for much of your teen existence: Determine who has your best interests at heart and determining their capacity to support your gains. The tasks require both courage and discernment. A conception of the opportunity may help.
[Continue reading to find out what Mentoring Is and Is Not]