by Valeria Tirado

College can be a tough journey; that’s why I think it’s important to have people who will help you along the way. Your family and friends are always good people to have around you, but one person in particular that you can benefit a lot from is a mentor.

A mentor, at least by my definition, is someone who you admire and learn new things from. They also provide you with the proper guidance you need. As a college student, this person would preferably be someone who has gone through similar schooling like you or is working in the field you’re interested in, but that’s not exactly a necessity.

Here are 3 reasons why a mentor can be invaluable during your tenure as a student.

They Know the School

A college mentor will, ideally, know the school. The mentor acts as more than just an advisor to you in terms of academics, they know the ins and outs of the campus. Their knowledge ranges from things like the best bus route to take to get back to the dorms at a reasonable hour to when and where events that may interest you will take place. This information, gained through experience and passed onto you, will make the simple yet crucial act of navigating the campus that much easier.

A good mentor can also let you know what extra-curricular activities on campus would be most interesting or beneficial to you. If there’s a club or hobby you’re interested in, it’s almost guaranteed that your mentor has at the very least heard about it and can point you in the right direction.

Life Experience

A mentor usually has experience that you, as a new entry into the world of college life, lack. A good mentor usually knows what you are going through when you confide in him or her about your problems because they’ve been through similar situations themselves. They have the most valuable thing a person gets out of college besides the education; the life experience. They’ve made the mistakes you’re going to make, had the successes that you’ve had, overcome the hurdles that are on the horizon for you and tasted the failures that are still just on the tip of your tongue.

There isn’t anyone better to get advice from than a mentor who has gone through the same trials you’re going through and come out the other side more experienced for it.

Networking

A mentor can be the conduit to a valuable resource of networking opportunities. A mentor has experience on campus, and with that experience a number of acquaintances with a wealth of experience of their own. Maybe your mentor won’t know everything, but your mentor will know where or how to get the information they lack and who to talk to about it.

If your mentor is also studying in your field, they’ll most likely know the professors, tutors, and aides who can help you along on your academic path. They may even be able to help you get a head start on your career by exposing you to internships or job openings in the field you’re interested in.

It is important to remember that mentorship is a two-way street; you learn from your mentor but they also learn from you. I know people who still keep in touch with their college mentors even years after they’ve graduated. That kind of relationship with someone is unique so I strongly encourage that you be on the lookout for a mentor at some point during your college career; you won’t regret it!

Valeria Tirado is a junior at Rutgers University – New Brunswick with a major in Environmental and Business Economics and an Anthropology minor. She plans to get a Master’s from Rutgers in Food and Business Economics and attend NYU Stern for Economics after graduation. Valeria is the captain of her intramural volleyball team and can be found on Twitter at @valeriat94.