University Learning Center

The Basic Approach to an Academic Mentoring Session

Before the Session/Beginning of the Session

1. Always be positive and approachable when first meeting a student (each student has different needs and different reasons for attending a mentoring session and may be apprehensive).

2. Get as much background information as possible: from the students themselves, from their LASSI scores, or from tutee self-assessments.

  • NOTE: Students participating in the Academic Mentoring Program (AMP) must complete the LASSI prior to their first session. 

3. Allow students to initiate their main concerns and/or problems (often students simply need to get things off their chests for the first few minutes).

4. Let students know that they can be as open and honest as possible. If they hate a course they are taking, you want to know that, so make sure they are not holding back information.

5. Try and put yourself in the student's shoes. Show empathy for these students, as many times they will come into a mentoring session with a stigma of failure. Be aware of this and act accordingly. If you have a story from our own life that can serve as an example, share it. We all desire validation in our struggles so that we know we're not alone in encountering hardship.

During the Session

1. Allow the session to be a two-way street. You never want to dictate a session with a student.

2. Don't overwhelm students with too much material. Find out their major issues and concentrate on those. Give them some direct study tips to help with their issues and have them practice a few techniques. Remember, a student can always come back if they feel like they need more help with specific strategies or if a strategy is not working for them.

3. Encourage them to write down the information you are providing for them. Often students will want to implement new strategies they discussed during the session, but cannot remember all of them.

4. Take note if a student is unresponsive or bored. Make sure you are applying your discussion and techniques directly to them-make it applicable.

5. During the session, allow the student to repeat, or even try, a couple of the strategies you discussed to make sure they are grasping the different concepts

Ending the Session/After the Session

1. As with any new endeavor, frustration [for both student and mentor] may happen. Students may be frustrated, but make sure they know that you are there to help and encourage them throughout the semester. Utilize humor as much as possible to help with frustration. It may make both of you feel better.

2. Have students attempt the strategies you have discussed with them for a couple weeks and then come back and discuss how they are working. Let them know that there are always more strategies to try if the current ones are not working for them.

3. Always strive to be positive but practical. Students need both a real assessment of their skills and encouragement to develop those skills.

4. Follow-up with your students during your weekly planning hour. Make sure you refer to something you covered during the previous session. You can, for example, ask the student how a test went, or you can ask them how they're adjusting to the weekly schedule you two created