The Scoop: What’s a Mentor and How Do I Get One?

A Q&A with Students and Educators

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A mentor is a trustworthy adult or older student who is available to answer your questions and guide you. He or she might also act as a role model to you and give you support to help you reach your full potential. Some schools and organizations have mentoring programs that connect you to adults or peers, but you can also find a mentor on your own by talking to a teacher, an employer or an older student whom you look up to.

Why seek out a mentor?

Some of the best and most valuable learning happens one-on-one with mentors. Mentors listen, care and engage. They share with us their wisdom — they help us make sense of life so that we can do and be our very best.
—Lloyd Thacker, Executive Director, The Education Conservancy

While some folks may be successful without a mentor, the vast majority of us are successful because someone took the time and energy to educate us on how to get to where we are today.
—Robert E. Bardwell, School Counselor, Monson High School

How can students find a mentor?

Get involved in extracurricular activities in and out of school because most people who work with youth have a passion to steer them in the right direction in life. As the interactions with coaches, advisers and counselors progress, they can develop into mentor relationships.
—Andrea Hepburn, School Counselor, Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School

[My mentor] is a family friend who’s always been around since I was little. She actually went to high school with my older brother. … [Mentors can be] anybody in your family, any close family friends, somebody who’s older.
—Mo’Nique, college sophomore

Students should find and befriend many mentors! Of the people you respect and trust, such as teachers, counselors and family members, who do you think is wise? Now go ask that person how they got that way, or any other question that is important to you. Mentors like questions.
—Lloyd Thacker, Executive Director, The Education Conservancy

How has your mentor helped you?

When things get really tough at [my college], … and I feel kind of inferior, [my high school English teacher is] the person who says, “I have faith in you, I know that you can keep doing this and I know that you'll succeed.” It’s just good … to know that she’s there rooting for me.
—Krista, college senior

[My mentor] was a youth leader. … [He] showed me a lot about turning my life around and the value of self-sacrifice, the value of a little bit of time that you can put into somebody, that you sow the seed into someone, how it can change them.
—Josue, college junior

I was graduating from high school, and I would go to [my Japanese teacher’s] classroom after school and have talks with her. ... She was a really concerned teacher. I was wondering, "What am I going to do next?" She told me about [an exchange program], and she was like, "You really should consider this."
—James, college freshman

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