It’s about that time of year again. College campuses everywhere will be filled with fresh meat and inexperienced young adults. I remember my first year of college at Tennessee State University. The only reason I survived is because my recruiter doubled as my mentor while I was there. Mr. Jolley was a voice of reason and practical advice. Our relationship and his support helped me not only survive but also thrive.

And when I tried to quit (and did), he was there to re-enroll me.

These types of mentor/mentee relationships are imperative for the next generation of thought leaders and change agents. This week in #stopaskingpermission, I share why mentors are needed at a collegiate level to aid in future success.

We are often recruited to serve as mentors to students in middle and high school. Organizations and programs tend to focus on young people before they enter college. There is nothing wrong with that approach. However, when we focus only on that demographic of students we fall short of helping provide support to college students who need us just as much, if not more.

An Inside Higher Ed essay found that where you went to college isn’t nearly as important as how you went to college. Not many college students receive the much-needed support which is a huge blow to how they navigated their college experience.

For black students, iet’s not forget that many will not see a black professor in their classroom. We have reported on why we need more black teachers because when kids see someone who looks like them with similar backgrounds, they tend to perform better academically. Imagine a black student attending a PWI and fighting through the daily struggle of being not only a small minority but possibly an unsupported minority. It’s a very cold world when you feel like you are just a number and not a part of a community. If you are an alumni of a PWI, there is an opportunity to reach out to your alumni associations to mentor students of color sharing with them your story of success and provide support to them.

Black students who attend PWIs are not the only ones who need mentors as they travel through the murky waters. Only four HBCU’s have six-year graduation rates over 50 percent. Imagine which issues could be plaguing those students at these institutions. I’m sure there are similarities between PWIs and HBCUs when it comes to financing education, the battle between providing for a family or going to class, having to decide between a meal plan or months of ramen noodles.

HBCU alums are some of the most spirited and dedicated people when it comes to homecoming. I understand and get it. I plan to be at homecoming myself this year. But, what if we put that energy into also mentoring a student by sharing with them the tricks of getting through the stress of college and your hacks for navigating the campus?

Becoming a mentor to an undergrad is simple. It’s doable, and it just might be the life-changing support that our future leaders need to jumpstart their quest in growing our community.  So lets #stopaskingpermission and start doing some digging to figure out how we can be of use this school year.


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