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Expectations for Mentors

As one main emphasis of the Mellon grant is to support undergraduate research and education, mentoring, whether it takes the form of supporting a student in their own project or including them in doing work on a mentor’s project, is a critical component of student development. While each mentoring relationship will look different, here are some basic expectations that apply to all:

  1. Be Committed – In agreeing to mentor a student, you are committing to being available to them for the duration of the project. How you structure that commitment and how much time you spend depends on the needs of the project, the student, and you!


  2. Set Clear Expectations – Your first meetings with your mentee should be used to set expectations for scheduling, communications, roles, and responsibilities. How often will you meet? Who is responsible for initiating communication?  What is the student’s job and what is the mentor’s? What goals do you each have for the project? How will the student be evaluated on their work? 

    • If the student is assisting you with your work, be mindful of their time. $500 per student works out to around 30 hours of work, so make sure to adjust your expectations accordingly.
    • Some mentors like to create a formal agreement at the start of the relationship; you can find sample templates for that HERE.


  3. Give Guidance – Whether the student is working on their own project or on yours, encourage them to develop a coherent, informed, and manageable approach to their work. This might involve getting training in a specific methodology or analytic model, refining a research plan, going through the IRB process, making a project timeline, etc. Your job is not to make decisions for them but rather to support them in making their own best plans and follow through on them.


  4. Emphasize Resilience – Setbacks in research are common. Help students navigate frustration or unexpected outcomes and learn to pivot or regroup. Be a cheerleader when needed.


  5. Foster Respect – for the student, for the discipline, for the research process, for the mentoring relationship. 


As always, if you have questions about mentoring or if issues arise as you are working with a student, please reach out to the Program Coordinator at for assistance. 

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