A Note from Chris Adams: Today you will find part 2 of a 3 part series written by our LifeWay Women training event intern this summer, Savannah Ivey. You can read part 1 here.These are some simple, yet powerful ways to connect with a college student, written BY a college student!
Last week, I talked about the importance of a mentoring relationship for college students. From conversations I’ve had with women in my life, I have found that a major inhibitor to mentoring a college student is simply not knowing what the young woman is looking for in your time together. While college may be hard to navigate, I’ll admit that college women might be even harder to understand! I reached out to several of my friends and other interns at LifeWay to come up with a list of things that we look for in our mentoring relationships.
Here are the five things that we believe are helpful to know when starting a mentor relationship with a college student:
1. Start small.
Organic Mentoring by Sue Edwards and Barbara Neumann notes that the word “mentor” holds a great deal of weight for both the mentor and mentee. Instead of asking a young woman if you can mentor her, start small with an invitation to coffee. It is also helpful for the mentor to schedule the first meeting. One friend said that she “felt rude asking someone to invest their time in [her].” If you ask first, it lets us know that we are not a burden, and you want to invest your time in us. When a woman comes to mind, approach her and ask her to grab coffee or lunch.
2. Build a relationship first.
I believe that one of the most important principles in discipleship is “earning the right to be heard.” Another intern mentioned that she was so intimidated to meet with her mentor, but when her mentor spent most of the time asking simple questions to learn more about her, she felt at ease and eager to share more. Before you jump in with advice and counsel, establish a relationship of trust first. Save the deeper questions for further into the relationship.
3. Make it your own.
In a conversation I had with Mary Margaret, she noted that mentoring doesn’t have to be a four-hour meeting at Starbucks every week. While I do love some coffee, your time together doesn’t have to be neatly packaged and fit perfectly into your weekly schedule. Even if you need help with laundry or have dinner leftovers to share, invite her to join you. Those can be the sweetest times in conversation when you bring us into your daily life. Find what works for you.
4. Communication is key.
Keeping with the idea of flexible mentoring, a huge thing for college women is knowing that you are accessible. I do not mean this to say that you shouldn’t protect your personal time with your family. However, it is so encouraging knowing that if I am struggling during the week, I can pick up the phone and send my mentor a text asking for prayer or encouragement. Edwards and Neuman note that, “flexible scheduling releases more of the process to the Holy Spirit as we depend on Him to bring a mentee’s internal needs to the surface at the appropriate time.”
One of the greatest blessings from my relationship with my mentor comes from knowing that she prays about me. She prayed before she agreed to meet with me, she prays before she talks to me, and she prays over the things that I share with her. Having her as a prayer warrior in my life reminds me that I am not alone in this season, and it gives me the peace in knowing that someone is petitioning the Lord on my behalf. Lead the relationship in prayer—both individually and together.
With these things in mind, I hope that you feel more equipped to reach out to a young woman in college to mentor.
Savannah Ivey is a senior at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. She is majoring in Communication Studies with a minor in Psychology. This summer, she worked with Chris and Mary Margaret as the Women’s Leadership Training Intern, assisting with the YOU Lead and Women’s Forum events. She loves working with young women, coffee, conversation, and music.