Mentors can be G-force Volunteers. G-force Volunteers are college student or community mentors who serve as the core volunteer force for GO — in GO Centers, in the school system, and in existing outreach efforts in community organizations. It is key that all G-force members are aware of the traits of a good mentor. A successful student will require the help of many individuals, including family members, teachers and mentors.
“What can I do to help?”
If you are interested in working with children in a school or community organization, please visit our G-force volunteer page If you are interested in mentoring a child in your household or community, it is first helpful to know the traits of a good mentor and how you can best help them.
“What is a mentor?”
A mentor is a believer in a student’s life and critical to success. A mentor is a parent. A mentor is also an adult who, along with parents, provides young people with support, counsel, friendship, reinforcement and a constructive example. Mentors are good listeners, people who care, people who want to help bring out a young person’s natural strengths.
The more a mentor participates in a sustained way at every level – in advocacy, decision-making and oversight roles, as fundraisers and boosters – the better chance a student has for achievement.
“How does mentoring work?”
A mentoring relationship can take many forms. In the best relationships, the adult helps a young person define and achieve his/her goals. As a mentor, you might help your student:
Plan a project for school.
Explore a topic of mutual interest.
Set some career goals and start taking steps to make them happen.
Learn more about the community and how to help others through volunteering.
Strengthen communication skills and the ability to relate well to all kinds of people.
Make healthy choices about day-to-day life, from food to exercise and beyond.
The list is almost endless! Mentors, here are a few other ways you can help. Parents, you too.
Guide one child.
Read to your child – or someone else’s – at a young age.
Visit a library with your student or child to help establish the importance of reading. Get a library card if you don’t have one.
Start saving for college by “feeding a piggy bank” regularly with your kids, and learning more about the state’s two college savings plans.
Begin talking to your child about the value of a college education while he/she is still in elementary school.
Help your child with their homework and, if they need extra help, talk to teachers about tutoring programs at the school or local library.
Help a student find a mentor by contacting the school or organizations such as Big Brothers/Big Sisters.
Visit with your child’s teacher and counselor.
Volunteer at school.
Limit television viewing and video game playing.
Let a high school student know you’re there to help research colleges and fill out applications and financial aid forms.
Help a middle or high school student explore careers and search for scholarships by visiting www.GAcollege411.org
Encourage many children.
Host a campaign training session and/or college enrollment workshop. For information, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Inspire students and parents to believe college is important, affordable and possible. You can do this by including information about the accessibility of college in the literature you distribute and presentations you make for your organization.
“How do I know when I am doing a good job of mentoring?”
If you want to be a mentor, and care enough to do it right, GO for it! While the specifics of each mentoring relationship may vary, the qualities of an effective mentor remain the same.
A sincere desire to be involved with a young person
Mentors have a genuine desire to be part of other people’s lives, to help them pursue their interests, achieve their goals and handle tough decisions. They have to be invested in the mentoring long enough to make a difference.
Respect for young people
Mentors should not have preconceived notions that youth need to be “rescued.” Mentors who convey a sense of respect and equal dignity in the relationship win the trust of students and the privilege of being advisors to them.
The ability to listen actively
It is relatively easy to give advice or express opinions. It’s much harder to find someone who will suspend his or her own judgment and really listen. Mentors often help simply by listening, asking thoughtful questions and giving participants an opportunity to explore their own thoughts with a minimum of interference. When people feel accepted, they are more likely to ask for and respond to good ideas.
Empathy is the ability to understand, at a very deep level, what another person is going through, despite not having had the same life experiences. It is very different from sympathy, which is sharing sad feelings. Of course you won’t always understand completely what your student is going through – that’s natural. The ability to empathize and the willingness to try to understand are the keys. Strong mentors empathize effectively. They can understand what a student is going through, without becoming caught up in the problem themselves.
The ability to see solutions and opportunities
Good mentors balance a realistic respect for the real and serious problems faced by their students with optimism about finding equally realistic solutions. They are able to make sense of a seeming jumble of issues and point out sensible alternatives.
Flexibility and openness
Good mentors recognize that relationships take time to develop and that communication is a two-way street. They are willing to take time to get to know their students, to learn new things that are important to them (music, styles and philosophies) and even to be changed by their relationship.
“What do young people value most in a mentor?”
Young people invariably say they want a mentor to help in three key areas:
Your wide range of life experiences can be a great source of advice and information. Help your student gain a new perspective by sharing your experiences. What did you do in a similar situation? How did it work out? Be willing to share, but check to make sure your student is interested first!
Remember that you and your student are different people. Your student will have his/her own values, which may be very different from yours and may lead them to very different ideas about what to do. Your role is to offer insight, advice and suggestions. It is your student’s role to evaluate the options, consider what you have said and then make the best decision.
One of the most valuable things you can do for your student is to help open doors. That’s what access is all about — helping your student find and get involved in new situations. You can help your student find people, opportunities and information that he/she might not have found on his/her own. You can take your student to new places, introduce them to new people and help him/her learn about resources that will help reach his/her goals. Improved access to resources is one of the most valuable benefits you can give to your student!
Have you ever had someone stand up for you when you needed it? Or speak on your behalf? That’s what advocacy is all about. If your student needs a job reference or a college recommendation, you can be a big help! But remember — in order to be an effective advocate, you have to really get to know your student. You will have to create opportunities to get to know your student as a person. The more you learn about your student, the stronger an advocate you can be!