We are here to support your program.

September Class of 2020


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Key takeaways:

  • The workplace culture can be both unfamiliar and jarring to mentees. COVID may have also made finding work difficult and even more stressful.
  • First- generation students often take fewer credit-hours than peers in the beginning of a certificate program, due to lack of prerequisite coursework, and lack of preparation for registration. 
  • There are many support services available for free on most college campuses.  Finding and taking advantage of these opportunities is a kind of ‘hidden curriculum.’
  • First-generation students are less likely to take advantage of academic advising services.

Roles for mentors:

  • Thought Partner
  • Cheerleader 

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As a mentor, you may not be familiar with all the ins-and-outs of your mentee's certificate program, but an academic of certificate advisor will be. Encourage your mentee to build their relationship with their advisor early. Mentees should meet with their advisors to register for classes and discuss their long-term plans. There advisors may be able to connect mentee with other program participants, alumni of the program, or potential employers who are looking to hire.

In addition to helping mentees select and register for classes, an academic advisor can help mentees balance study and extracurricular activities, and connect mentees to academic supports on campus such as tutoring, office hours, and job opportunities.  They should know of campus connections for internships and scholarships, and they can help mentees resolve issues from health problems to academic struggles.

If mentees build this relationship early, their academic advisor can be the perfect reference when they need a reference or a letter of recommendation for applications to jobs, internships or 4-year college. 

For mentees entering the workforce, they may be faced with new systems and expectations that differ quite a bit from high school. Ensuring your mentee feels supported at work and knows where to go to if a problem arises in the workplace is an important step.



"Experts on first-generation students sometimes refer to the often confusing array of student support services as 'the hidden curriculum,' something that has to be learned on the fly by students who don't always grow up knowing about things like college advising."

-- Ed Venit, senior director at Education Advisory Board

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Prompts for Communication:

Here are some ideas for questions or conversations starters you can use this month to open important conversations with your mentee.

  • How were your first days at work? What information did you get from your supervisor? What new systems or skills do you need to learn?
  • What kind of support system does your job have for new employees? Who can you reach out to for help and guidance?
  • What are the official policies for your workplace?  What do they mean and how are they enforced?
  • In what ways is your working life different from your life in high school?  How do you feel about these differences?  How are you managing them? 
  • How does course registration work at your certificate program?  What courses do you need to take?  When will you take them?
  • How many credits will you be taking during the first semester?  How does that balance with your work-study job (if applicable)?

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