There once was a freshman biology major who sat down for a conversation with his English teacher. The teacher gave a few words of praise on a paper and offered some personal observation, direction, and encouragement. In a few short minutes, the teacher instilled a belief in the freshman that this newfound writing talent deserved attention.
You may have already had a similar experience—a high school teacher or coach who had an amazing effect on your life because they took a personal interest in your potential for growth and success.
College professors, even TAs, who become true mentors can see promise in you that you don’t see yourself. They can either affirm the educational choices you’ve made and the direction you’re headed in, or they can radically change the course of your college plan.
Either way, they have the power to positively affect the course of your life.
Approximately 50 percent of college grads report having had a teacher/mentor in college.
The percentage is slightly higher at independent colleges where class sizes are smaller and the student-teacher relationship is closer.
Big school or small, why not increase your chances of success by actively searching these life-changing educators out?
- Get a list of teachers/professors for your school. Check out the school’s Web site, do the research, then Google. See what other people have to say about your future educators,
- Get a reference. Know anyone who’s been, or is going to the college you’re looking at? From their experience, ask: who do they know that you should know?
- Talk to students. A college tour is a great opportunity to ask students directly for information; don’t be shy to ask questions of total strangers. People love to talk about what they believe in, and great teachers are at the top of the list. If you have a major in mind, seek out upperclassmen in your field for an informal, informational interview about coursework, and especially about professors.
- Consider your academic advisor and RA as potential mentors. As you get started in your college experience, take every opportunity to talk to anyone who might have some insight or recommendations for you—networking works.
By the way, that freshman biology major in the story was yours truly. Because of that brief conversation with my English teacher, I graduated with a degree in journalism. Go figure.
Who will have that impact on your life?