This guest post is from Rhonda Presser, a volunteer mentor and Board member:
I’m in my second year of serving as a college mentor for an Anacostia High School student. My first attempt, with a senior girl, was largely unsuccessful and wholly unsatisfying.
Given my first experience, I’m not completely sure why I agreed to try again, but I am so glad that I did. I am now working with a junior boy who is utterly delightful. He is a really hard worker, extremely polite and well-spoken, with a great sense of humor and a strong rooting in family and faith. We meet about twice a month, and discuss all manner of topics. Because he is a junior, we have some time to develop a relationship before diving into the college admissions process. Which brings me to the biggest irony of this endeavor—my current student is pretty sure that he doesn’t want to go to college!
I am utterly convinced that college is the right path for my student, so I am working hard to ferret out the reasons for his objections to continuing his education, and doing my best to debunk them. I also stress the importance of leaving himself with choices, since he won’t have to decide what to do or where to go for almost a year and a half. He loves his native city of Washington, so I try to emphasize that the best way he can “give back” is to get an education and return with the tools to help other, less fortunate Washingtonians.
At this juncture, all I can conclude is that mentoring students is not a whole lot different than dealing with your own mercurial teenagers. (Yes, thank you, our whole family survived those years intact!) While I keep asking for guidance from RICH, I realize that there is no rulebook that would be applicable to every child. I just have to keep building on the foundation of trust and respect that my student and I have established. I also have to accept that my student might not go to college after all, and be satisfied that this wonderful young man has come into my life.