Flexibility: High

Social Engagement: Medium (remote); High (in-person)

What’s What: If you love working with young adults and you think higher education is an important engine for social change and achieving equality, why not mentor a first-generation college student? Many organizations don’t require a regular time commitment so this can be a very flexible way to give back.

Amava Take: There are more first-generation students going to college than ever before and just a small amount of time spent as a mentor to a student can make an enormous difference in their success in college and beyond. You can help students navigate issues such as choosing a major, roommate issues, or getting an internship. You don’t have to be an expert in these areas, just willing to listen and provide general advice.

“Oh, no. Seven years of college down the drain.” – John “Bluto” Blutarsky

It doesn’t have to be like that! You can make it so!

From the Front Lines:

What kinds of volunteers are you looking for to fill these jobs?

People who have the heart to give their time to a young person. Thinkers who want to dig in and really help a student find their path.

Any tips for first-timers to make it a productive and fulfilling experience?

Get to know your student’s circumstances and concerns early on. It will make you a more effective mentor.

What’s a typical schedule like?

It varies based on student needs, organization standards and volunteer availability, but volunteers can often set their own hours with mentees once the relationship is established.

From the Trenches:

What’s the most satisfying part of the job?

Helping a student take steps towards a successful future is hugely rewarding.

How would you describe the hard parts?

It can be disheartening to see hard-working young people get so little help, but then, you can do something about it!

What’s different about college today compared to “back in the day?”

More than anything else, it can be cripplingly expensive. So many students go into debt that is very difficult to contend with in the post-college years.

Special Requirements: Generally none.  If you have any type of college degree and are open-minded, empathetic and willing to spend some time developing a relationship with a student, you can be an excellent mentor.

Finding a Position: Check Idealist, VolunteerMatch and search online for local organizations. Generally non-profits working with first-generation college students continually need mentors. Student Mentor.org has information about getting started and Mentor.org can give you information on all types of mentorship opportunities. Many universities also have in-house programs seeking volunteers from all walks of life. Search the [name of the college] + [be a student mentor].