Mentoring CPE Students: In Real Life

January 9, 2017

men·tor /ˈmenˌtôr,ˈmenˌtər/ noun

  • A trusted counselor or guide
  • Tutor, coach
  • Merriam-Webster Dictionary

What Does Mentoring Look Like “In Real Life?”

Reflect on your life for a moment. Is there anyone who has been your personal champion? Someone who kept you encouraged, someone who believed in you perhaps when you didn’t believe in yourself? Someone who inspired you to go the extra mile? Maybe a coach or teacher who took a vested interest in you, an academic advisor who supported as you switched your college major, or maybe someone in your current profession who showed you the ropes? If so, you have benefitted from having a mentor.

The mere mention of formal mentoring often conjures up an elusive relationship, one that many believe they are ill-equipped to manage. However, nothing could be further from the truth. The National Mentoring Month theme, “In Real Life,” illustrates that all of us can contribute to closing this gap. Mentoring means talking to a young person about your career, strategizing how to pull that C in English up to an A or B, listening to a teenager gush about a first crush, helping edit college essays, providing consolation when a rejection letter has arrived, or celebrating as a young person walks across the stage with diploma in hand. It also means seeing things from a different perspective, learning more than you teach, and becoming a better communicator, all while making a real-life impact.

At CPE, mentoring in real life means being part of a network of support for a young person on their journey to a successful and prosperous adulthood. Guided by CPE staff, mentors ensure that students are socially and emotionally grounded, working toward their academic and career goals, and honing their soft skills. Their experience in attending and graduating from colleges makes an enormous difference in helping guide our students through the college experience. Through their various personal and professional interactions they serve as role models. Their most important impact, however, is being there in person for their students year after year.

Why Mentoring?

For the past 15 years, MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership has designated January as the month to raise awareness in the community around the benefits of mentoring. CPE has long understood the transformative effects of mentoring. Having a mentor empowers young people to make smart choices and prepare for success as adults. Youth who are mentored are more likely to enroll in college, participate in sports and other extracurricular activities, and volunteer regularly in their communities. They are also far less likely to engage in risky behaviors such as using drugs. In his 2015 book Our Kids, Robert Putnam concurs that mentoring can be life changing, especially for the low-income youth served by CPE:

Careful, independent evaluations have shown that formal mentoring can help at-risk kids to develop healthy relations with adults, and in turn to achieve significant gains in academic and psycho-social outcomes…. These measureable effects are strongest when the mentoring relationship is long-term, and strongest for at-risk kids. (Upper class kids already have informal mentors in their lives, so adding a formal mentor does not add so much to their achievement). Measurably, mentoring matters.

Sadly, despite the proven, positive outcomes of mentoring, a mentoring gap exists: 1 in 3 young people grow up without a mentor. This means that roughly 9 million youth are not benefitting from mentorship, with the largest numbers represented by the lowest income quartile.

Please Celebrate our Mentors with CPE

Please join us this month as we celebrate our more than 300 volunteer mentors who set aside time each week to make a difference in the life of a student seeking a college education. We will be featuring their stories and accomplishments in a variety of ways. The calendar includes:

January 12, I am a Mentor Day: CPE Mentors, join us on social media and post photos of you with your mentee using the hashtags: #MentorIRL #CPEMentors

January 19, Thank Your Mentor Day: CPE Students, join us on social media and post photos of you with your mentor using the hashtags: #MentorIRL #CPEMentors

February 4, CPE Open House: CPE will open its office from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. to welcome all CPE mentors, students, and supporters to celebrate with the CPE Network of Success.

We hope to see you online and in-person throughout the month and join us at the CPE Open House. Together, we can all close the mentoring gap.