Every day, teachers, coaches and colleagues, build natural mentoring relationships with youth through simple interactions. This August, we’ll share stories and resources for mentors and mentees, whether natural or formal, illustrating their role in helping youth develop skills, confidence and social capital.
The field of mentoring owes a great debt to the Gallup-Purdue Index, a study whose goal is “to conduct the largest representative study of college graduates in United States history.” To date, the team has surveyed 60,000 college graduates, resulting in a 2014 report and another report to be released in the coming weeks. The 2014 report highlights the vital role of mentors in college students’ graduation, ongoing engagement in work, and overall wellbeing.
As the lead author notes, “We learned that if graduates felt “supported” during college — by professors who cared, made them excited about learning and who encouraged them to pursue their goals and dreams — their odds of being engaged in work more than doubled, as did their odds of thriving in their well-being. This finding was true of graduates of all ages and years of graduation; in other words, it’s a career- and life-trajectory game changer.”
In the more recent report, life success was determined by conventional markers (e.g., employment, salary) as well as students’ reports about their satisfaction with
Once again, college mentors emerged as a key factor accounting for better outcomes overall and greater satisfaction. In particular, as previewed by Frank Bruni in a recent NYTimes column, satisfaction was predicted, in part by students’ college experience, including whether or not the student
Although readers are cautioned to consider the self-selection biases inherent in survey’s of this nature (i.e., better students seek out mentors and deep involvement in projects), the report found that these effects emerged regardless of the students’ personality.
Unfortunately, less than a quarter of national graduates strongly agreed that they had received the support of mentors who encouraged them to pursue their goals and dreams. Given the vital influence of mentors for educational achievement, career success, and overall life satisfaction, we need to both teach students to “fish” for a support and to stock the pond with caring adults. Here are a few suggestions.
As the Gallup data, mentors are a key active ingredient in college success, and their influence pays forward across the lifetime. As such, we can not leave this ingredient to chance. Learning how to recruit and effectively engage with mentors and other caring adults, and how to build what Murphy and Kram refer to as a “developmental network,” is every bit as important as learning many other subjects, perhaps even more so.
9 million young people in America are in need of a trusted adult in their lives to guide them in moments big and small. Join the In Real Life movement and become an advocate, make a donation or become a volunteer.