Dr. S S VERMA
Mentoring is a relationship in which the more experienced individual supports the development of a less experienced individual by being an advisor and guide. Mentoring has many forms but, here, we are talking about mentoring of students by senior students. In student to student mentoring, the senior student becomes a mentor to a junior student and junior students value learning from their seniors. It is a well-known concept that “a child learns from a child better”. Students are always very close to each other and share many of their secrets with each other as they do not do generally with their parents or teachers. Student mentoring of juniors by their seniors used to be a well-known practice in earlier days but with the development of technology and its over powering the life activities along with learning, learning (mentoring) from seniors have fallen. Still in many good places of learning like IITs, IIMs, IISERs and many more where almost serious and learning conscious students join, the practice of student mentors is being practiced and prove to be very useful for new entrants.
However, with age, learning from colleagues is not practiced that much but at young age this practice can produce good results. In my Ph.D. days at IIT Delhi in 1980s, it took me almost two years to learn computer whereas B.Tech./M.Sc./M.Tech./M.Sc. students in general but B.Tech. students in particular who joined institute at the same time could learn all these things within just six months with the cooperation and guidance of their seniors. In IIMs, teachers teach the students from 9am to 5pm and then their seniors take the responsibility to impart all the required knowledge and practice to make new students more competent in additional activities like communication, preparing of resume, group discussion, debate etc. Similar practice is also followed in IISERs. But this student mentoring by student mentors has not taken its due role in most of the educational institutes in the country. It is good that ragging is almost banned as well as stopped in educational institutes. But, there is need to strengthen this activity by motivating a close, healthy and friendly interaction between senior and junior students.
Many educational institutes/colleges/universities have student mentor scheme in which in the beginning of academic year, a group of new students (mentees) are assigned to student mentor (s). The student mentors are selected by the departmental faculty members who are well known to the students and their characteristics. Characteristics of effective mentors considered are:
* Great listening skills
* Excellent communication
* Wide network
* Past experience with mentorships
* Specialised advice and enthusiasm in your field
* Gives constructive feedback
A student mentor differs in that this mentorship relationship is specifically tailored to help students. Student mentors may meet weekly with students to encourage, listen and make suggestions on their current activities and classes. A student mentor may also allow a student to get involved in the mentor’s workplace to learn about the field and make connections.
Most of the students coming to college/university have go through a transitional period. They have to adapt to new ways of learning and teaching, as well as living away from home, often for the first time. Mentors have a pivotal role to play in education. Whether you are enrolled in a pre-service teacher program, working as an intern in a school, new to teaching or to a new school, you often have a mentor to help guide you through any transitions along the way. A student mentor (who is generally a senior student) in school/college/university will help the new student (mentee) to go far by providing academic, personal and professional help and can be a source of support when needed most. Student mentees gain valuable skills from their mentorships including networking, research and internship opportunities, and special insight from someone with more experience or knowledge in the field. A mentor is someone who likely has more work or life experience than you do, regardless of age. Someone that you look up to and that has achieved some things in their lives that you also hope to achieve. Someone that you can see similarities between who they are or what they have done and what you aspire to do or be as a person. The Student Mentor (s) is a team of current/senior students, trained to offer the help and support whilst new entrants enrol in the college. The student mentor will be there to help as soon as the new entrant receive his/her accommodation and throughout the rest of life. It is rightly said that there’s no problem too big or too small only you should not hesitate to share your problem with your mentor. The Student Mentors can offer support in lots of areas:
* Mentors can help with academic and non-academic queries or concerns
* Help to settle into student life and orientate into the college/university and city environment
* Can create opportunities to meet other students from your course
* Can guide about referencing, note taking and what to expect from the course
* Will introduce or guide about students’ union activities, clubs and societies to get involved in
* Can help in using turn-it-in and learning facilities and helping to prepare for exams
* Can give insider tips on surviving the first year at college/university and student life specific to time and location
* Will give ideas on the different opportunities you can get involved in around campus
* Can give relevant, recent and reliable advice that they have been trained to provide
* Can answering the questions, you really want to ask
* Can advise on accessing specialist support services
Dr. S S VERMA