Student Progression at UHI

UHI Student Mentor Network
Student Mentor Training
Kevin Sinclair, Student Progression Lead Practitioner
Email: [email protected]
UHI Student Mentor Network
Getting to know each other
First session – an introduction to mentoring and
the role of UHI student mentors
Second session – how to structure and run
mentoring sessions
Third session, international students, counselling
awareness, becoming an effective mentor and
First Mentors – August 2010
UHI Student Mentor Network
New to University? Life and study at
university requires adjustment. It is not the
same as school, college or work.
What challenges do new students face?
Are these challenges the same for everyone?
What about mature students, those from
overseas or those coming from a further
education (college) background?
What are the main social, personal and
academic issues a new student will
Discuss these topics.
UHI Student Mentor Network
UHI student mentors
• Support new students by providing
peer encouragement and being a
positive role model.
• Mentors can begin by arranging
meetings (in person or virtually)
with groups of around ten first year
• Provide more intense mentoring to
a maximum of two students
throughout the year.
• Refer students who require help to
specialist services – student
advisers, careers coaches, student
support etc.
• Have the support of the mentor coordinator at all times.
UHI Student Mentor Network
Benefits of mentoring
To the mentee:
• Contact with someone who has
recent experience of first year
• Realise that they are not alone
• Meet other students
• A peer they may be more
comfortable discussing issues with
(than staff)
• Can feel a sense of belonging
• Get a personal face in a large
• Can receive lots of information and
• Develop faster as a student
To the mentor:
• Mentoring is a rewarding and
worthwhile experience
• Develop skills that are useful for
study and future employment
(mentoring highly valued by
• Increased leadership and
communication skills
• Better contact with your department
• Employers look favourably upon
students that take on responsibility
such at this whilst at university
• You will probably find your own
progress as a student to be faster
UHI Student Mentor Network
What is mentoring?
A mentor is a mix of four skills:
• Coach – helping the mentee achieve specific
targets. May challenge assumptions and
stretch the mentee. The coach is leading
the process.
• Counsellor – the most important skill here is
listening. A supportive person for the
mentee to talk to in confidence.
• Networking – everyone needs to be part of
networks to function well. The mentor
introduces the mentee to university
networks – formal and informal.
• Guide – sometimes the mentor ‘gives the
answer’ from their own experience.
However always giving the answer does not
allow the mentee to grow in themselves.
What is the best mix of these attributes?
Are there others we should include?
The mentoring mix:
Friend, adviser, supporter, encourager
UHI Student Mentor Network
What is the mentor ‘job description’?
Each mentor will work in a slightly different way, taking account of your own
experience and areas of confidence, but working within these boundaries:
• Answer general questions about studying at UHI
• Be a friendly face and a known person to those who may not know anyone
• Give insight in what to expect from study at higher education level
• Offer general guidance and support throughout the students first year
• Offer information and informal support, making use of resources provided
• Provide a link between new and existing students
• Offer an ongoing mentor service to students via email or perhaps at regular
hours in an appointed place on campus
• Each Mentor will have their own background which will give them a specific
area of expertise, for example disabilities, mature students, international
issues etc.
UHI Student Mentor Network
The mentor ‘job description’ - continued
There are some areas of work that mentors should
beware of and try to avoid!
• Being an advisor or counsellor to the mentee
• Becoming a new best friend or confidante
• Avoiding specialist areas such as finance, student support, careers
advice etc.
Are there any other areas you think mentors should avoid?
What potential problems could you see in the work of a
Could overlap with other college services or lack of
specialist knowledge be issues to address?
By good referral to specialists, mentors can avoid potential
areas of conflict with mentees or staff.
UHI Student Mentor Network
Setting the boundaries
• Set boundaries for what you can and cannot do early on (socially and
academically) – you could use this discussion to find out what your
mentees want to get from their sessions and what you are able to provide
• Define the frequency of contact and when you might refer them to
someone else for support
• Be sensible about the situations you put yourself in
• It is good to be friendly but you are in a position of responsibility – you
must take this into account
Discuss how you will set the boundaries of your mentoring in advance today,
and how you will set out and explain those to new mentors.
UHI Student Mentor Network
How do mentors work?
Mentors could do one or more of the
• Meeting individually with students who
are known to need the support
• Weekly consultation sessions for students
to drop in and meet with the Mentor during
set consultation hours at an advertised
location which will always be on campus.
• Email support
• Regular meetings for coffee with all
mentored students (this can work
particularly well as the students gain
support from each other also in addition to
the mentor)
• Working with a local student association or
UHISA to organise social events – parties,
day trips, visits to local places. This is
particularly for international students.
• Online support via the website for any
student with a question
UHI Student Mentor Network
Working with your mentees
You are there to be contacted if your mentees need you with confidentiality
They may contact you by phone, email, or in person
You should have specific ideas of the content of your
meetings - social and academic
A regular meeting time and place is preferable
UHI mentors will most commonly either:
1. Invite their small group of mentees to regularly meet for
coffee to discuss issues, or
2. Work one to one with a few students – the preferred
UHI Student Mentor Network
In summary the role of mentors is to:
Role of
UHI Student Mentor Network
Getting started – matching with mentees
It is important to get in touch with the students you will be mentoring early
on. At UHI the mentor network is voluntary offered to students. It is not
compulsory, as with all the best mentor services!
You can let your fellow students know that you are their mentor by:
• Putting up a poster inviting the new students to take part.
• Contacting the new students by email and let them know about the
mentor network. You could use blackboard or another instant message
• Put your ‘profile’ on the mentor website
Students may contact the mentor co-ordinator to be matched to a mentor. Or
they may contact you directly, if that is the case, and you feel you would like
to mentor them, always let the mentor co-ordinator know who you are
mentoring. If you feel that they would be better mentored by someone else,
direct them to the co-ordinator to be matched.
UHI Student Mentor Network
Dealing with group dynamics
• Think about where socially everyone will feel comfortable
• Listen to each group member
• Ask for explanations and ask questions to engage discussion
• Open the conversation to the whole group
• Look for blank stares and those that avoid eye contact
• Try to keep to a structured session plan to avoid conversations straying
onto inappropriate subjects – use activities
• Have some activities of topics for discussion in reserve in case you need to
steer the conversation in a different direction
This assumes that you will be working in a group. Most mentors prefer only
mentoring one to one. That is fine, in fact that is really what mentoring is.
The purpose of group work is not so much actual mentoring, but to find out
who could benefit from mentoring.
UHI Student Mentor Network
Structuring the first one to one meeting – a checklist
Where shall we meet, and for how long?
– PROP – professional, relaxed, open,
purposeful for both parties.
What do we want/need to know about
each other?
Social: career history, domestic
circumstances, interests outside college.
Career/study ambition: what do you
like/dislike about UHI, your
achievements or failures, your fears or
confidence, what is your picture of
success, how clear are the mentee’s
Development goals: what does the
mentee want to improve, what are their
career aims (see UHI Careers Service
slide), where would the mentee most
value guidance.
3. What will make the relationship satisfying
and useful for both of us?
4. What expectations do we have of each
other and what are the ground rules?
5. What are our priorities?
6. Do we want to set an agenda for the next
meeting or keep it informal?
7. Are there any issues we should get to
work on now?
UHI Student Mentor Network
What should the next meetings
consist of?
Campus based mentors and mentees
could meet informally once a month
or so to go over how students are
getting on. Find out from the
students what their issues are. Have
one item ready that you would like
to talk about – for example: exams,
time management, preparing for
assignments etc.
Look out for students who would like
extra support and offer one to one
Online students can be emailed to see
how they are getting on. Try to do
something other than just ask how they
are. Perhaps send an email talking
about your own experiences at that
stage of the year to get conversation
UHI Student Mentor Network
The final meeting
Towards the end of Semester 1, or early in the second, you would stop
arranging group meetings (if you have used these), but continue with
individual meetings for those who would need them.
The final meeting could take place after the first exam results. It is always a
time when people like to reflect on what has happened until that point. That
is also a time to encourage students who might be feeling it is too much and
considering ending their studies.
The final meeting with your individual mentees would usually take place in
the second semester. Have a general discussion about the student’s
experiences. Tell them about the online evaluation form.
It is up to you whether you keep in touch – we encourage this as it is good for
you and your mentees. And encourage anyone who might be showing
potential to sign up as a mentor!
Tip: it is easy for mentoring to feed our own ego. Remember that success is
the student not needing us any more.
UHI Student Mentor Network
Is mentoring group work?
We don’t assume that you will be working in a group. You may prefer
only mentoring one to one. That is fine, in fact that is really what
mentoring is. The purpose of group work is not so much actual
mentoring, but to find out who could benefit from mentoring.
The best work of mentoring is always a one to one. A group setting is
actually unsuitable for good quality mentoring as people will not open
up in a group.
Mentors who work remotely with students, by email, Blackboard or
phone will always mentor in a one to one setting.
When working one to one, always have an idea what you would like to
achieve from the session, but let the mentee be the main guide as to
what they would like to achieve. Your role is to facilitate them to excel.
Let them set the targets, but you challenge them to go further!
UHI Student Mentor Network
International students
International students will face extra issues:
• Culture shock
• Home sickness
• Practical issues – health services, banks, etiquette
• Fitting in and feeling a sense of belonging
• English language is often an issue
• We do not want to segregate but integrate
• Useful for our international mentors to share their experiences
How can we help students to overcome these issues?
What other special groups might particularly benefit from a mentor?
UHI Student Mentor Network
Counselling skills
You are NOT a counsellor, nor are you expected to take on this
But, you can develop skills to encourage others to respond to you,
and you can recognise when someone might need help
You should be aware of the issues that many student face whilst
beginning university
Know when to refer a student for further support and ask for help
UHI Student Mentor Network
Basic counselling awareness
Counsellors work with a variety of difficulties and issues. In universities
problems include: studies and exams, personal relationships, identity,
loneliness, anxiety, depression, suicidal feelings, homesickness, family
problems, cultural issues, trauma, life changes, bereavement and loss,
eating difficulties, drug or alcohol problems, life crises, mental health
issues, experiences of abuse or discrimination.
The most common issues are usually home sickness, challenges of
independent learning, making friends and relationship problems.
UHI academic partner counsellors can help with all of these issues.
They provide time and space to examine, clarify and understand
concerns, and explore and develop more effective ways of coping.
UHI Student Mentor Network
Some basic advise:
• Home sickness – do not go home, do not ring home too much, as mentors
do not highlight the differences in backgrounds. Home sickness is often
linked to depression – natural to feel homesick but if still after 4-5 weeks
should seek further help.
• Relationship problems - parents can see child leaving home as a chance to
split up, no feeling of belonging.
• Anxiety – social and academic performance, use your own experiences to
help mentees
• Depression – look out for: sleep problems (getting to sleep, staying asleep
and waking up), eating habits (over or under eating), needing alcohol or
drugs to function, isolating oneself
• Don’t look for problems – mostly students will settle in after a week or
• If you see signs of depression, ask for help and advice.
UHI Student Mentor Network
Mentor relationships are actually rarely completely confidential. However privacy is
very important. It is better for a mentor not to be a member of staff, as students feel
much more comfortable talking to a peer and someone who will not be marking their
As a general rule, everything discussed in the mentor relationship is confidential.
There are exceptions, however. If you have reason to believe that your mentee could
be of harm to themselves, or others, that should be reported. However, in general,
what is discussed between the mentor and the mentee is private. It should not be
discussed with staff or other students. The ground rules should be explained at the
Also if you feel something should be reported to staff, such as several students
struggling with the same piece of work, then simply ask for permission to mention it
from the student. You can feedback class issues without mentioning student names.
UHI Student Mentor Network
E – Mentoring
Some students are not often on
campus. How can we keep in touch
with them?
• How can we make best use of
technology to keep in touch?
• Are there advantages to
mentoring at a distance?
• What could you do to build a
distance relationship with
another student?
Tip: It is really important that the
mentee knows they have our full
attention. Make sure there are no
interruptions or background noise
while on the phone. Give them our
full attention. It may help to mentally
picture them in our minds, this helps
us concentrate on them. People on
the other end of the phone know
when we are not paying full attention
to them!
UHI Student Mentor Network
What makes an effective mentor?
Sets clear
Good listener
of others
The effective
Interested in
Able to
Good humour
UHI Student Mentor Network
What does an effective mentor do?
Manages the relationship
Offers mutual respect
UHI Student Mentor Network
Diversity mentoring
How do we best respond to diverse groups?
Mature students, young people, different ethnic groups, disabled students,
international students…
It is actually best to include everyone in the same mentoring programme.
Diverse groups tend not to value a mentor system for their benefit as it is
seen as making them different.
Mentees vary in terms of their wants. Some value someone of them same
group as they are. Others specifically want someone from a separate group,
perhaps the group they feel is not disadvantaged.
So we respond by being flexible and try to supply the mentor that the mentee
UHI Student Mentor Network
• Discuss scenarios where you have
faced, or know someone who has, a
problem/issue to resolve at UHI
• What would you do as a mentor?
• Give advice as you now would as a
• Feedback to the whole group
UHI Student Mentor Network
Mentoring as a life skill
• Mentors are increasingly used in business. You could take your skills with
• Or, you could set up a mentor programme.
• How do you mentor where there is no formal mentor programme?
• How do we find ourselves good mentors throughout life?
UHI Student Mentor Network
The UHI Careers Centre
Careers planning is a subject of interest for many students as the purpose of being at university if
often career related. Mentors have a valuable role in encouraging students in relation to their
career planning.
There are two common misconceptions related to career planning. Either people think careers
planning is for those who don’t know what they want to do, or that it is for those who do and
need help getting there. In truth everyone can benefit from taking some time out to reflect on
their life goals and how they can achieve what they want.
The UHI Careers Service offers:
• Self help materials provided on the website
• Free, confidential e-guidance and telephone guidance services
• Free, confidential career coaching service.
Mentors are encouraged to direct students to the careers website and to careers coaches who
have been trained to help students develop and work towards their career goals.
Find out more at:
UHI Student Mentor Network
Student Charter and Red Button
The UHI Student Charter sets out what students can expect from UHI, and what UHI
can expect from students, to enable success on their journey as a student. The UHI
Student Charter (PDF, new window) is available to download online.
Student Advisers are the best first point of contact for a student who feels their
expectations have not been met, and can provide them with advice and support. If a
student does not know who to contact, or would like to tell someone about their
experience as a UHI student, then they can use the online form at the Red Button
section of the website.
UHI Student Mentor Network
Feedback on how the student mentor network is working is very important. It
will allow us to make changes to better suit student needs and gives you a
formal channel to report issues you may have.
We keep the paperwork to a minimum! So we just supply a simple form for
you to complete each month letting us know how you have got on. We don’t
want to know about the details of your mentoring relationships – remember
those are private. However, do let us know how you are getting on as
mentors and if there is anything we can do to help.
Thank you!
Making mentoring work:
Take time to practice your mentoring skills
Feedback monthly to the mentor co-ordinator
Refer students to appropriate staff as required
The mentor co-ordinator is here to help you! Feel free to get in touch at any
time for help or advice:
Kevin Sinclair, [email protected]
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