Another pre-post today, as I am scheduled to get back from my conference very late Thursday night and I suspect will be digging out of my inbox most of Friday (today). This one is about the power of connecting with someone on campus.
Wake Forest’s culture is one of being a face-to-face, person-to-person place. This means your students will have the opportunity to get to know people on campus deeply if they wish. Students see faculty in the classroom, or staff from offices or organizations the students are in, or Residence Life Staff in the residence halls – and each of those people has the potential to be a helpful connection and a resource for your students. Some could even grow into mentors.
But faculty, staff, and administrators don’t typically hang out signs on their doors that say “LET ME MENTOR YOU!” Rather, most people let students approach on their own time and in their own ways. And that means students have to do some work if they want to have that kind of relationship. They need to reach out and invite that kind of relationship to develop.
I used to have a Wake professor I just loved, who I jokingly referred to as my “dad away from dad.” I would go to his office hours and sometimes we’d talk about his subject matter, but a lot of times we just talked about life. I took things to him I was not yet ready to take to my parents – maybe things I wanted to test out an impartial adult’s reaction to. And it was great. Other friends of mine developed relationships with faculty that ran the gamut of helping them get into grad programs, or being references for jobs, or to help with independent studies, or just a friendship based on a shared love of something. Those relationships typically endure beyond graduation.
If your Deac has not yet found a trusted adult that they can turn to, encourage him or her to think about the faculty whose classes they have liked most, or staff or administrators they have met before, or want to get to know better. Students can stop by in office hours, ask for a meeting, or make an effort to begin forming that connection. It can be a formal process (“I am looking for a mentor”) or it can be a friendly series of conversations that creates an informal relationship. Chances are your student will benefit from the relationship, and so will the mentor figure.