Best Practices

Best practice: The peer mentor's role

best practices mentoring
By Zach Reeves-Blurton on January 27, 2020

Do’s and don’ts of mentoring

To be a strong mentor and lead intentional conversations with your mentee, you may take on many roles: teacher, consultant, sounding board, confidant, role model, devil’s advocate, or coach.


  • Be a motivator: Guide, express belief and confidence in a mentee’s abilities and encourage them to try new things.
  • Be a resource: Help a mentee navigate academic, professional, or sociocultural environments by introducing them to new people, places and ideas.
  • Be a supporter: Encourage open dialogue, listen to the needs of mentees and act as a sounding board as they process ideas and concepts.
  • Be a coach: Help a mentee develop the skills needed to achieve, realistic and meaningful goals in both the short and long term.


  • Don’t be a tutor: Provide general guidance from your own experience, but do not help a mentee in a particular class or subject. Refer to tutoring.
  • Don’t be a passive listener: Listen to and support a mentee, but listen actively and provide constructive feedback.
  • Don’t be an academic advisor: Discuss educational goals and disciplinary culture, but academic consultancy is the role of an academic advisor, not a mentor.
  • Don’t be a counselor: Share perspectives and advice from your own experience, but never provide clinical recommendations (or diagnoses!) — leave that to trained professionals.