Batman and Robin or the Student Mentoring Scheme
We all know Robin, the junior counterpart to the superhero Batman who follows in his footsteps living life in its most adventurous form. We can, to some extend attribute some of Robin’s moves or at least confidence on the positive influence Batman had over him. This is a metaphorical and obviously exaggerated interpretation of the student mentoring scheme. In a broader and less abstract sense, students from the generations above are assigned to freshers belonging to the same department and, over one to one meet-ups, they talk through all sort of university related problems that seem impossible to handle in the first year. However, taking part in it is optional and, as we all do every now and then, we tend to equal the term ‘optional’ with ‘why bother going’. From my ‘very smooth transition’, it’s obvious that, in a few lines, I’m going to give you some reasons why you should actually bother taking part in the scheme if it exists in your department.
Last year, the scheme came as an oasis in the desert for me. At the beginning of my first year, I was seriously lacking some confidence due to the impression that the academic work load is overwhelming and I might not be able to raise up to the expectations I had in mind for myself. In the same time, I was getting more and more involved with societies and extracurricular activities and, additionally, I didn’t want to miss the “young and restless” memories of a night out. Therefore, time management became this uncontrollable force that I needed to “tame” but I had no idea how. There came the student mentor. What my mentor firstly did was to reassure me that my case of “what’s happening?” was not isolated and that disorientation is an integral part of a first-year student journey. The reassurance that ‘with time, you’re going to get settled’ was something that I really needed to hear, especially as the mentors were talking form their own experience. What she would do was basically telling me her way of dealing with university live, following up with: “my best advice for you here would be to…”. She was really helpful in terms of how to organize my work, how to deal with feedback, how to approach essays…how to find the strength to show up a 9am after a night out and so the conversation would run its course.
Even if you feel confident with balancing your time and work at university, there’s still nothing to lose in joining the scheme. Because the generations above have been here for longer, they can guide you to events that might be of interest for you, workshops, careers fair you may not know about, how they applied for executive positions within a society, internships, what they would do differently if they were freshers again and what they wish they had known when they were in your shoes. It’s not an interrogation and you will probably discuss all these things over a coffee so keep in mind that the scheme is very casual and the mentors should be easy to talk to giving the fact that they choose to take part in it – so, again, no obligations for anyone.
Don’t, however, treat the scheme as an opportunity to say your piece about lecturers and modules as the mentors are instructed not to feed these topics. Additionally, bare in mind that the student mentor and the personal tutor have totally different roles, so if there are any academic or personal issues you need to discuss, you shall then ask for your personal tutor’s help.
Hopefully, as I know the mentoring schemes start running at this time of the year, I hope I convinced you to sign your name up and who knows, next year, it might be you the Batman of a future Robin how needs a helping hand in getting used to the university routine.