The value of a good support system cannot be stressed enough. This university feels so huge at times – there are so many different and interesting things going on simultaneously, that new students may feel either overwhelmed by it all, or may only hear about events/workshops/etc after they have taken place. Finding an ally in a mentor can really help new students to navigate the intricacies of university life, as well as create valuable connections that can serve you well after graduation.
Finding a mentor outside of the school setting doesn’t have to be challenging. For example, since I’m very interested in attending law school, I approached several of the law firms in the building that I was working in at the time, and simply asked if there might be a lawyer who would be kind enough to talk to me about what a career in law is like. Of course, I dressed professionally each time I approached a firm, and walked with copies of my resume. It was amazing to me how many people were excited to be approached by a student interested in their field, and eventually I received an offer from a barrister who I am now proud to call my mentor!
I’ve learned that approximately 30% of the University of Toronto’s students are the first in their families to obtain tertiary level education. While my parents did attend university, I’ve met a lot of students whose parents couldn’t because circumstances did not allow. It takes an incredible amount of drive to walk through the doors of this (or any) university; and I’d imagine that being the first in one’s family to achieve this goal makes it that much more of an accomplishment.
The University of Toronto offers several mentorship programs. One that is geared towards new students from any faculty is called the First in the Family Peer Mentorship program. This program matches first year, first-generation students with upper year student mentors who can offer guidance on everything from time management, to developing good study habits, to introducing them to the myriad of services, workshops, and on-campus events that U of T offers. During the winter term, they host bi-weekly events that provide tips for getting through life as a new student.
Even if you do not fit the criteria for becoming a First in the Family Mentee, the program’s officers can connect you with other mentorship programs that will suit your needs.
Many faculties also offer faculty-specific mentorship programs that students of any year can become involved in. Remember, mentorship is invaluable as you move though your academic career towards graduation – through finding a mentor, you are building networks of people who now know you personally when the time comes for you to begin your job search. The friendships you build with your mentors can carry way beyond your school years and your mentors may be available to offer you advice throughout your career.
Find out more about the mentorship programs available through your faculty. It can benefit you in so many ways!