I hope you are excited about your new position as it is a great opportunity and extremely rewarding. As a sophomore academy mentor, you get the chance to help guide one or several students along the path to success and develop a close bond.
Initially, it may be difficult to develop a trusting bond with your student(s). My first few weeks with my student were somewhat awkward and quiet. I would ask her the questions I thought I needed to ask such as “What homework do you have to do today?”, “How are your classes going?”, “Are you going to office hours?” etc. While these are valid questions to ask and I still ask these questions after a year with my student, in the first few weeks, these questions seem forced as if I am only asking because I am getting paid to. Our sessions were somewhat quiet in that I wasn’t entirely sure how to help my student. However, as time went on, we developed a much stronger bond and our sessions became a much more comfortable space. This all depends on personality types, but with a little time, a professional friendship will form between you and your mentee(s).
An important thing to realize about these students is that they are human and will struggle. They have been struggling and it will take time for them to adjust. They may still struggle in the beginning and you have to work through those struggles together to find the best solutions. My student was so set on her major but did not pass one of the introductory classes. This was a big disappointment, but we didn’t want it to create a damper on the rest of the year. We decided to focus on the achievements that she made even though she did not pass the class and had to switch majors as a result. I could see how hard she tried during the quarter and how much effort she put into the class, so I let her know that. That grade and this major change did not define her as a student. It is important to focus on what your student(s) is doing right and bring those achievements to light. They may already be in a place of low self-esteem and confidence and struggles like this may come up. You have to help them realize that it’s okay and help them move to a place where they can achieve.
My last piece of advice that I can give is to work all year long to make sure your student establishes good study habits. You only have one year to work with the student and then they have to continue working on their own. Therefore, it is important to help them develop the necessary skills to study on their own. You should be confident in their abilities by the end of the year. You may not achieve a level of 100% confidence in your student, but making sure they grow all year long until they are at a better place is necessary. I know that I have so much pride in how far my student has come and know that she has done so much to make sure she succeeds in school, but I still worry about her next year because she may start working on a hard minor and I won’t be around to help her. I have confidence that she will seek our help if she needs it though.
Overall, being a Sophomore Academy Mentor is an amazing experience and you are very lucky to have such a wonderful job. Good luck!