Mentoring in higher education has become a key component when it comes to the development of students. Peer, alumni, student and faculty mentoring programs have developed significantly over the last five years.

Mentoring in higher education institutions can be the most effective way to prepare undergraduates for their time at university or college. It can also be a great tool in preparing students for their time after education. Even Faculty members can find mentorships useful in their personal and professional development. Mentoring can take many different forms in higher education.

  1. Peer to peer mentoring: Peer to peer mentoring programs are in operation in colleges and universities across the globe. Incoming freshmen often find the adjustment period of integrating into university or college to be a challenging time. This is why more and more higher education institutions are offering peer mentors to first years, to help them in their transition period. A study carried out of a peer mentoring program for freshmen by Janet W. Colvin and Marinda Ashman at an american university, Roles, Risks, and Benefits of Peer Mentoring Relationships in Higher Education, revealed some interesting findings on the benefits of both being and having a peer mentor. The benefits for mentors were communicated as follows: “being able to support students, reapplying concepts in their own lives, and developing connections themselves.”. Peer mentors in this program found helping others a rewarding experience. They were also able to learn from their mentees and develop friendships with them. Meanwhile the peer mentors also found the experience to be a worthwhile one: “students also considered having mentors beneficial in helping with their class work and connecting them to campus.” Peer to peer mentoring programs at the higher education level can be invaluable to the personal and academic lives of both the mentors and mentees, and can really help when it comes to integrating freshmen with campus life.
  2. Alumni to student mentoring: Alumni can provide a great resource for enhancing the educational experience of students. After graduating, Many of an institution’s students go out into the world and develop careers and connections in varying fields and disciplines. These alumni can then in turn give back to their alma mater by becoming mentors to students who are studying in their field and hope to develop careers in their area after they graduate. Having connections to established individuals in reputable institutions who can act as mentors to undergraduates can be a great selling point of a college or university. Another benefit of this arrangement for educational institutions is that it can strengthen their ties to their alumni. It can also increase the likelihood of businesses to recruit from their student body. In turn, mentors are able to give back to their university or college and connect with people who will be working in their industry at an early stage. An institution’s alumni are a resource which can strengthen and enrich the educational experience of their students through mentoring and can help them to take the first steps in developing their careers.
  3. Faculty to Faculty mentoring: Another type of mentoring program in place at many higher education institutes is faculty to faculty mentoring. New faculty members can gain insights into teaching, submitting grant proposals, submitting papers and adjusting to life on campus. Mentors can introduce their mentees to other members of the faculty and make them feel more comfortable at their new place of work. Students aren’t the only ones who are in need of assistance in adjusting to life at a new university or college. It’s never too late to learn and benefit from a mentorship.

Mentoring at the higher education level takes on many forms and includes mentors and mentees at all levels of academia. Freshmen, seniors, graduate students, alumni, and faculty are all involved in mentoring at universities across the world. Mentoring has become a large part of the personal, professional and academic development that takes place at the higher education level.

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