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Learning Center Experience
By Heather L. Cannova MSN, RN, Adjunct Faculty, School of Nursing, Kaplan University
Many successful people recall a
specific person who inspired or encouraged them during their careers or
education. Some have several mentors
throughout their career. As a student,
having a mentor during your education can be an excellent resource and
tool to help you achieve your educational goals. “Mentoring is a way to transmit experience
and knowledge” (Williams, 2013). Mentors
can give you guidance and tips for success with your educational goals. “A supplement to traditional educational
models, mentorship also allows students and employees to improve their careers
through networking (Williams, 2013). In
addition, mentors can provide career contacts and networking long after the
formal relationship ends.
Many students must
balance family, work, and educational demands. This can prove very overwhelming. A mentor can provide encouragement and guidance on how to balance those
things. Many students who have had
mentors find more value in their education and work harder towards their
educational goals (Williams, 2013). Not
all students need mentors, however; even in an online learning environment,
finding a mentor and working with one on a regular basis can prove very
beneficial. While a mentor-mentee relationship can be extremely rewarding, it
is important to understand what a mentor is, and what a mentor is not.
mentor is not your friend. Though many
times these relationships develop into friendships over many years, initially,
a mentor is not your friend. Therefore,
the relationship with your mentor will benefit from more of a structured and
professional approach. If you would like
a faculty member or a professional colleague to serve as a mentor, approach
them and discuss with them what you hope to gain from the relationship. Make sure that the meetings are set at a
certain interval. This can be initially
set for every couple of weeks to once per month, or once per quarter as the
It is important
that you come to the meeting with a set agenda, accomplishments so far,
questions, and things you are struggling with. For instance, perhaps you need assistance with a particular project you
are working on at school, or you are having problems balancing school and work. Many mentors have faced the same challenges
and can give you important strategies for working through similar issues. In
addition, though this may sound obvious to some, it also means no late night
phone calls or texting at your mentor’s home unless your mentor has made him-
or herself available to you in that way. It is very important to respect personal boundaries for the relationship
to be successful and to work.
mentor-mentee relationship has a definite beginning and an ending. It is important to understand and respect the
many demands that your mentor has as well. Thus, the relationship cannot go on
forever. For many students, the
mentor-mentee relationship ends after graduation or once a project (such as a
dissertation or thesis) is complete. It
is important that you and your mentor define the beginning and ending point of
your relationship early on. However, it
does not mean that you cannot stay in touch with your mentor via email or some
other agreed-upon communication. Many
mentors love hearing back from previous students and enjoy hearing how you are
doing. It is so important for you to
share your successes. Your mentor will
celebrate with you! I can speak from
personal experience that it is truly one of the most gratifying experiences
watching someone I have mentored or taught succeed professionally and
personally. So, don’t be afraid to
ever feel like you are bothering your mentor. If it is a scheduled time, and your mentor has made the time for you,
don’t apologize for being there. Studies
have shown that the mentor benefits personally and professionally from the
relationship as well (Williams, 2013). So, don’t be afraid to approach a trusted instructor or colleague that
you respect for their time. Chances are,
they will gain just as much from the relationship that you will.
of how well you are doing in your career or school, a mentor can be a valuable
key to your success story. Not only does
a mentor-mentee relationship provide you with an opportunity to form a very
meaningful connection with a professor or colleague, it can help you find a
creative pathway to pursing your educational and career goals.
Heather L. Cannova is a full-time faculty member at Kaplan University. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not represent the view of Kaplan University.
Whiteing Williams, Delores J. The Benefits of Mentoring Students. Radiation
Therapist, Fall 2013 (22), 2, pp. 233-234.
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And if you are considering pursuing a nursing degree, we invite you to find out more about Kaplan University's School of Nursing and explore our undergraduate and graduate degree offerings.
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