According to a survey of 3,000 people in 2019, 76 percent of people reported that having a mentor is important. But only 37 percent said they had one.
This discrepancy might be explained by how people’s mentor-mentee relationships begin. Most people don’t find a mentor by asking someone to mentor them. On the contrary, people usually report that the relationship developed naturally over time. But the benefits of mentoring give more than enough incentive for institutions to bridge this relationship gap.
A wealth of research backs people’s positive perceptions around mentoring. It’s not only helpful for career development but also for improving the success and wellbeing of high school students. We’re going to explore why mentoring high school students is a good idea and what it can look like for your student.
What Is A Mentor?
A mentor invests in an individual to develop them toward their personal and professional goals. Mentoring is more than giving advice. A good mentor possesses practical expertise in the skills that the mentee would like to develop.
Usually, when people think of mentor-mentee relationships, they think of two working professionals. The mentor has more experience and knowledge in the career that the mentee wants to grow in.
But evidence suggests that starting earlier, such as with high school students, yields a host of benefits.
How Mentoring Helps High School Students
On a macro level, mentoring provides benefits that should signal academic institutions to take notice. Mentoring has been shown to improve graduation rates while reducing dropout rates. It also promotes higher enrollment rates in colleges among high school graduates.
This means more students sticking through to the finish line and beyond, and fewer students left behind.
On a personal level, positive mentoring relationships possess a contagious effect, improving students’ relationships with their parents, teachers, and peers. Perhaps this is because mentoring also tends to result in greater interpersonal skills and higher self-esteem.
Students who had a mentor were also less likely to engage in illegal drug use. Not only is this significant in terms of youth’s health but also their future socio-economic wellbeing. Drug and alcohol use in high school is a predicting factor for whether students will attend and complete college.
Overall, quality mentoring both protects students against risky or unhealthy behaviors and promotes a variety of benefits that contribute to their wellbeing and success.
The Case For A Culture Of Mentorship In Schools
However, these benefits don’t happen automatically. Like anything else, it has to be done right.
The Havard Business Review provides a useful critique of programmatic, top-down approaches to mentorship. They argue that, in addition to assigned one-on-one mentors, people flourish best when the entire institution’s culture supports an attitude of mentorship. If the overall culture doesn’t support mentorship, a siloed mentoring program might not be as effective as advertised.
They put forth a solution, which they call, “mentors of the moment”:
Mentors-of-the-moment help to promote a mentoring culture where all members of the organization — especially those in the middle to upper ranks — seek opportunities in daily interactions to develop or grow junior colleagues and peers.
Although they’re speaking of company culture here, there’s no reason to believe that this same culture-driven approach to developing young professionals wouldn’t benefit high school students as well.
In fact, this is exactly what we’ve found to be true at Sora.
Sora’s Culture of Mentorship and Professional Development
Sora is an innovative virtual high school designed to accelerate students toward their wildest dreams. We do more than teach our students the core subjects they need to graduate. We provide our students with specialized knowledge and real-world experience related to their career of interest. Our entire culture feeds into developing our students personally and professionally.
To start, we connect students with industry mentors, who are working professionals in their desired careers. Industry mentors provide a direct line of experience to Sora students as they work through industry-focused projects.
But we’ve also cultivated an organic culture where each member of Sora collaborates together to better each other and the school.
At Sora, we have a thesis of collaboration between faculty and students to craft the school that they want to attend. To accomplish this, we have what we call Roadmap Club.Wesley Samples, Co-Founder of Sora
Roadmap Club is a unique feature of Sora. It gives students access to the listening ears of Sora’s faculty, administration, and founders. It’s an opportunity for students to voice their experience of the school–what works, what doesn’t work, and how they think the school could be improved. Students who attend Roadmap Club realize that their insights have the power to shape their school experience in real-time.
This mutual openness to feedback is critical to developing and sustaining a culture of mentorship that thrives. Mentees are more motivated and responsive when they know their voice matters.
Through initiatives like this, all of Sora’s faculty and administration collaborate with students to develop them as future professionals. The result: a school that students love and students who learn how to use their ideas to make their work environment more enjoyable, sustainable, and successful.
Interested In Learning More?
If you’d like to learn more about our innovative high school program, click here to speak with our admissions team.