Central to students’ academic support systems are faculty mentors. Mentors provide guidance in the planning of students’ degree programs, demonstration of competencies in fulfillment of degree requirements, and further academic and professional assessment and planning beyond their degrees. A faculty mentor teams up with each student and a professional advisor, i.e., a credentialed expert working in the field, to form the student’s academic committee. Whereas academic advisors focus on student questions and issues related to the “business” of being a student at SNL, mentors focus on supporting, challenging, and assessing students’ demonstration of competencies and overall academic development.
Mentoring-student interactions require faculty mentors to be attentive toward students’ particular life contexts, goals, interests, as well as concerns or difficulties, while keeping the relationship within the boundaries of confidentiality and equity. Faculty mentors not only provide useful feedback but are also open to receiving the same from their students. As a representative of liberal learning ideals, faculty mentors offer support, challenge, and vision to aid the adult learner in achieving growth and success.
Faculty mentors guide students according to the academic standards of the program, college, and university, and consult and collaborate with administrators and staff to assure that each student is aware of available options, and that any administrative problems get solved. Faculty mentors also draw on their insights and experiences in order assure that the policies and programs of the larger university community are responsive to adult learners’ needs.