Frequently Asked Questions
1. Why should I have a peer mentor?
Throughout life, we all have many mentors who provide us with different kinds of guidance. Peer mentors are a friendly and relatable resource to help support and guide you through your time at UNM. Peer mentors will help demystify the undergrad & grad school experience, while offering encouragement and constructive feedback. Peer mentors are specially trained to use their experiences as students to help others succeed and navigate higher education.
2. What can a peer mentor offer beyond other students I interact with in classes and around campus?
A peer mentor by no means replaces other students you know and from whom you receive advice. Having a peer mentor is a purposeful act for those who want to succeed and advance. A peer mentor will expand your network at UNM and enhance the support you receive. Peer mentors have the experience to provide you with university and departmental resources, as well as equip you with strategies that are valuable throughout your academic and professional lives.
3. What does a peer mentor offer beyond my assigned faculty mentor?
Having a peer mentor to talk to who is not involved with your academic department or research is beneficial because they offer an outside, confidential perspective that you may not hear otherwise. Additionally, there may be times when you don’t feel comfortable talking to someone in your department or your problems may not be entirely academic, and so speaking with a faculty mentor or advisor may be awkward. It is easy for students to become so entrenched with their academic work that they sometimes forget there is a whole world outside of their scholarly pursuits. Peer mentors are a comfortable bridge between academia and life beyond campus.
4. How do I find a mentor?
Finding a mentor can be a difficult process, especially if you don’t know where to look. For some students, their departments will connect them with a faculty or student mentor upon entering the program. If this is not the case for you, or if you are not connecting well with your assigned mentor, try looking outside your department for potential mentors. Network with other students and faculty at campus events, ask other students who they have as mentors, or join a mentoring program, such as PNMGC’s Peer Mentoring Program. A great way to expand your network and meet potential mentors, advisors, and resources is through student organizations on campus and in the community.
5. What do I get out of the PNMGC Peer Mentoring Program?
PNMGC offers all Peer Mentoring Program participants a certificate of completion at the end of the semester. Additionally, we offer $6,000 in Peer Mentoring Scholarships to individuals who fulfill scholarship eligibility requirements (see Question 10 for more info). The scholarships are awarded through a random drawing at the end of the semester.
Aside from certificates and scholarships, the psycho-social benefits of peer mentoring are invaluable. Research shows students who have mentoring relationships are more likely to graduate on time and with higher GPAs (Coles 2011), have a greater sense of satisfaction with their programs and institutions (Green & Bauer 1995), and are better prepared for life after graduation (2014 Gallup-Purdue Index Report).
6. How do I join the PNMGC Peer Mentoring Program?
At the start of each semester, PNMGC begins recruiting new mentors and mentees. The application to participate can be found online at the PNMGC website (www.pnmgc.unm.edu) and Facebook page (www.facebook.com/pnmgc). PNMGC also sends details on joining the Peer Mentoring Program to our general mailing list, PNMGC-L. You can add yourself to our mailing list, and manage all subscriptions, at https://list.unm.edu.
7. What types of things should mentors be able to give assistance about?
One of the great things about peer mentors is that they will have experience in their program and/or at UNM. This means they can give insight into classes, professors, campus or community resources, research opportunities, what to know about theses and dissertations, developing professional or academic leadership, and important degree milestones and timelines. Peer mentors are also experts in the student experience outside research and classes; they know what it is like to deal with the confusion, uncertainty, and stress of undergraduate and graduate school.
8. What are the qualities of a good mentor?
At the core, a good mentor is an active listener, a trusted resource, and able to provide constructive feedback. Peer mentors ideally serve as both personal and academic/professional support for their partner(s). PNMGC recognizes that our best peer mentors are committed individuals who have been at UNM for two or more semesters, have been engaged in campus organizations, and are open to meeting new people and having new experiences.
9. What is not included in being a peer mentor?
Peer mentors will not be expected to deal with psychological crises, resolve disputes with advisors, or deal with degree-related issues beyond their training. Should any of these issues arise, the PNMGC office staff can direct you or your partner to proper resources.
10. What does PNMGC expect of me as a mentor/mentee?
PNMGC’s Peer Mentoring Program is designed to be flexible and useful to many different types of students. There are formal and informal components to the Peer Mentoring Program, and students are free to choose which approach works best for them.
As a Peer Mentoring Program participant, all students must attend a mandatory orientation scheduled at the start of the semester. This orientation is a program overview and introduction to peer mentoring. Once matched with a partner, students are encouraged to meet at least once a month, in person. These meetings are scheduled by the students. We understand that not all students can meet in person, so consistent, quality communication—by any means—is the standard expectation. Some partners meet in person, others communicate via Skype, Facebook, or by phone. PNMGC will be launching an e-mentoring initiative for those students who are unavailable to meet in person due to time constraints, family obligations, or distance. Additionally, participants are encouraged to attend ongoing monthly trainings and social activities offered through PNMGC.
For students who prefer a more structured mentoring experience, PNMGC offers a Peer Mentoring Scholarship, which requires: (a) monthly, in-person meetings with your partner; (b) attendance at four mentoring workshops and two social activities; and (c) a reflection essay at the end of the semester. Upon completing these requirements, you and your partner are each eligible to win a $500 scholarship. PNMGC awards $6,000 in scholarships to eligible partners through an end of semester drawing.
Whether done formally or informally, PNMGC hopes that your mentoring experience suits your needs, fits with your schedule, provides quality trainings to enhance your leadership or professional skills, and enriches your time at UNM.
11. How much is too much to ask of a mentor, in terms of the time they devote to me?
The best way to answer this question is to think about how you would feel in their place. Peer mentors have volunteered to help other students because they want to share their knowledge and are dedicated to the success of others. The number one reason students join is the desire to help others as they have been helped. Setting up a somewhat regular meeting or communication schedule that is convenient for you both will help you manage time. During your first meeting, openly and honestly discuss time expectations and boundaries, as well as preferred methods of communication. Also remember that failing to communicate or not keeping appointments will have dramatic effects on the time your mentor or mentee chooses to spend with you. Be mindful that you and your partner are each students with many other obligations—at times, students cancel meetings, are running late, or are unable to meet a deadline. So long as these moments do not become habits, please be understanding and flexible when it comes to managing time with your partner.
12. Should I seek help from another mentor if I don’t think the person assigned to me is best able to help me?
It is certainly fine to build connections with other mentors, and in fact, that is exactly what a peer mentor network is for! It is likely that as you progress in your program, you will meet new people, your interests will change, etc. This may mean you find other students or mentors to whom you go more often for advice, and there is no problem with that. You might mention to your partner the people you’ve met and found some common ground with, so they don’t worry they aren’t doing something right or that you’re aren’t getting the support you need. And at any time, you can speak with the PNMGC office team to change partners or add another mentor to your network.
13. What if I don’t like my mentor or mentee?
It is normal that not all people will get along or connect. If you find that this is the case with your match, notify the PNMGC office and we will work to re-match you and help you communicate this with your partner. PNMGC wants you to have a successful and mutually beneficial peer mentoring experience, so please do not hesitate to communicate your needs or issues with the PNMGC office team.
14. What if I don’t need to see my peer mentor very often?
Peer mentors will certainly understand if you don’t have any current concerns they can help with, but don’t think of your peer mentoring relationship as solely for problems and worries. Maintain communication even if you don’t have a need to meet in person. Share with your partner your successes, your joy, and your passions! Text, call, or email to let your partner know you are still there and willing to listen, regardless if there is an expressed issue.
15. Can I be a mentor and mentee?
Yes! There are times when students need a mentor and are in a position to mentor others. For example, a Master’s student may want to be mentored by a PhD student and also mentor an undergraduate who is interested in grad school.
16. Can I have a mentor or mentee from outside UNM?
Yes! You may recommend a mentor or mentee outside of UNM and the PNMGC office will communicate with that individual or organization to facilitate a match. Please note that individuals who are not UNM students are not eligible for the Peer Mentoring Scholarship, but will receive a certificate of completion from PNMGC.
17. Can I participate in PNMGC’s Peer Mentoring Program, but not the scholarship eligibility requirements?
Yes! The Peer Mentoring Program is designed to be flexible and meet students’ needs. The scholarship rewards students for maintaining a structured engagement, while certificates reward students for their informal, yet committed peer mentoring relationship. If you have questions about whether our program can serve you or your organization, please contact the PNMGC office at firstname.lastname@example.org.