The Mentor at Empire State College
The mentor at Empire State is a new kind of faculty-teacher. Most of his or her time and energy are spent on two major tasks, direct work with students and developing resources for use by students. Much of this activity will take place talking with students on a one-to-one basis, in the Regional Center.
Each mentor works with approximately 30 full- and half-time students. He/she helps a student to clarify educational goals and to identify resources and learning activities to be pursued through individually designed programs of study. The mentor assesses student progress measured through learning contracts, and reviews progress toward a college degree. He/she tutors a student when his/her own area of specialization is pertinent to the student's needs.
As an effective resource for students the mentor needs broad knowledge of pertinent readings, organized learning programs, community experiences, consultants, and tutors that can be used by the student as he/she pursues his/her own learning. In this capacity the mentor is an educational planner helping the student make sound judgments about which learning alternatives yield a high return and which ones do not.
Because the mentor needs wide-ranging knowledge about resources that students may use, a substantial part of effort will be spent identifying, developing, and evaluating such resources. In this effort the Mentor will have constant opportunity to broaden his/her own knowledge, experience, and range of competence.
Most mentors will be invited to contribute from time to time to the development of organized learning programs. Because a mentor will be most knowledgeable about materials students can use effectively, his/her participation in the development of these materials is crucial. The mentor will, therefore, periodically join working teams to develop appropriate programs. As those responsibilities are assumed, other activities may be modified depending upon the time requirements of the work to be done.
The mentor, then, combines many strengths and concerns: He/she is a sound scholar with demonstrated intellectual abilities and a proven effectiveness in responding to individual student needs; firm in expecting rigor and thoroughness in student work.