Tips on Mentoring Gen Z College StudentsFebruary 7, 2022
Life is busy, and even with all the technological advancements that allow us to instantly communicate with each other, people of all ages can still feel isolated. This is especially true during major life transitions like moving to a new place, starting a new career or going to college. As a university-based retirement community, that’s one of the reasons The Woodlands at Furman participates in a program for mentoring college students.
Benefits of mentoring for college students:
- Increased graduation rates
- Lower dropout rates
- Healthier relationships and lifestyle choices
- Enhanced self-esteem and self-confidence
- Building interpersonal skills
Benefits of mentoring for seniors:
- Increased feelings of purpose and self-esteem
- A sense of accomplishment
- Remembering your college life and young adulthood
Types of Mentors
Here are some ways you can mentor, but rather than thinking of yourself as one type of mentor, you’ll probably touch on all these during your mentoring relationship.
- Life/Career: As someone who has navigated life – and perhaps a career – you can offer your mentee a different perspective and suggestions on navigating the next chapter of their own life.
- Cheerleader: It’s important your mentee knows you’re always in their corner. This type of mentor cheers their mentee on no matter what, helps them learn from their failures, and enthusiastically shares in their successes.
- Bedrock: This type of mentor considers their mentee’s school and career goals as part of their bigger life and, if things get tough, reminds them of their priorities.
Tips for Being an Effective Mentor
If you’re considering mentoring college students, here are some suggestions on how to mentor to ensure you both have a fulfilling relationship:
- Set goals: This will help give direction to your mentor/mentee relationship and lets you know what your mentee is looking for. But remember, goals can change as priorities change.
- Establish expectations: Figure out how often you and your mentee will communicate with each other and adjust as needed.
Gain insight: Ask about your mentee’s interests, experiences and background. When your mentee is talking, avoid interrupting, and show interest with your voice and posture.
- Share: Build trust and rapport by telling your mentee about yourself and your experiences, including any mistakes you made and what you learned.
Invest: Building a solid relationship takes time and effort, so you need to commit to being a mentor and the mentoring process.
- Respect: Just like when you were growing up, college is a time to learn and try new things. Even if your student may see the world differently, try to admire and respect them in small or large ways.
- Listen: Use active listening skills to help you remind your mentee of their goals as you provide appropriate encouragement and constructive suggestions.
- Empathize: Remember your mentee has a unique point of view; try to understand what they’re feeling and why.
- Seek solutions and opportunities: In addition to providing advice, a good way to help your mentee determine their next steps and help them stay focused on their biggest goals and priorities is to ask questions.
- Adjust: Your mentoring relationship may change as your mentee’s life and goals evolve. It’s important to be able to adapt to these shifts.
How to Mentor Gen Z
While each generation is different from the one that came before, it’s also possible to make connections that transcend age. Here are some things to know about mentoring college students:
- It’s easy to seem apathetic: The 24/7 news cycle can heighten everything that’s wrong in the world and it’s easy to become overwhelmed. Like most people who feel overwhelmed, it’s sometimes easier to tune everything out and stop caring. As a mentor, you can help your mentee find a healthy balance between feeling engaged and apathetic.
- Social media can skew their worldview: Much of social media appears to be about trying to project a perfect reality of the world. When mentoring college students, it’s important to help them understand that the world isn’t black and white; it’s shades of gray. Sometimes good people do bad things, and bad people do good things. What’s most important is how they work within these shades of gray to make a positive impact on their world.
- Fast-paced can seem slow: The speed of everything has increased. Today, Gen Z can watch, listen and play anything they want with a push of a button. With all this immediacy, Gen Z can sometimes expect things to happen immediately. It’s important to show your mentee the importance of moving at a slower pace and all that can be learned from spending time on a project, relationship, or experience.
- Gen Z has goals: People in this age group have lofty goals, including finding solutions to climate change, political reform, renewable energy, infrastructure, cyber security, education reform, deforestation, and sustainability in agriculture. A good mentor will help them plot the steps they need to take to reach their goals.
The University of Senior Living
At The Woodlands of Furman, we believe lifelong learning is an important part of a more engaging lifestyle. In fact, we believe lifelong learning can keep us feeling young. Our relationship with Furman University offers Woodlands residents opportunities for mentoring college students, as well as access to a wide array of noncredit courses and activities. To learn more about our approach to senior living, contact us here.