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CIRCLES Mentoring FAQs

Please review the following frequently asked questions about CIRCLES Mentor Training Program and peer-led circles. 

CIRCLES Group Mentoring

CIRCLES Group Mentoring

What is CIRCLES group mentoring?

CIRCLES is a peer-led group mentoring framework that offers space for exploration, discussion, collective problem-solving, co-learning and mentoring connection for graduate students based on shared identities or interests in an informal small-group setting. 

The Circles group mentoring framework consists of two elements:

  • CIRCLES: a mentor training program

  • Peer-led mentoring groups called “circles.”

How do students benefit from CIRCLES Mentoring?

We offer ongoing identity-based circles to support graduate students from traditionally underrepresented communities, including first-generation graduate students, students of shared ethnic or cultural identities, and LGBTQIA+ communities.

How do academic units or graduate student organizations benefit from CIRCLES Mentoring?

The CIRCLES Mentor Training Program helps you create your own mentoring groups tailored to the academic and community-building needs of students.

What happened to the SHADES multicultural and HUES LGBTQIA+ peer mentoring programs?

SHADES and HUES are being transitioned into the CIRCLES framework. We will continue to support existing SHADES and HUES mentors and mentees and encourage them to continue their one-to-one mentoring relationships, but the Graduate College will no longer be assigning direct mentor/mentee matches.

We encourage all graduate students from our multicultural and LGBTQIA+ communities to join a SHADES or HUES group, where they will have opportunities to continue connecting and building new organic mentoring relationships.

Create a Circle

Create a Circle

Can faculty, staff or postdoctoral scholars become CIRCLES mentors?

Yes! We offer mentor/facilitator training and support for academic units or graduate student groups or organizations interested in starting mentoring groups for your own students.

Peer-led mentoring circles are a great way to build affinity and connect students within and to your unit, create a stronger academic support ecosystem for your students, and ultimately bolster student success.

We encourage faculty, staff, graduate students and postdoctoral scholars to join us as facilitators-in-training for our SHADES and HUES identity-based circles.

What are some ways academic units are using the CIRCLES Mentor Training Program?

Academic units are taking part in CIRCLES Mentor Training to launch groups supporting and bolstering departmental affinity and community connection for international graduate students within their department or school, online graduate students, or minoritized populations within their field or discipline (e.g. women in STEM).

Why should I become a CIRCLES mentor?

Mentorship is a rewarding experience, an opportunity to ‘give back’ and support students, and a chance to share your own knowledge, experiences, and insights. The CIRCLES Mentor Training Program helps you develop, refine and become more confident in your group facilitation, mentoring and leadership skills. 

How does the CIRCLES Mentor Training Program support new mentors?

The CIRCLES Mentor Training Program offers a cohort-based mentor community space. Our modules guide new mentors through the real-time implementation of your groups. We offer ongoing support, mentoring curricula, supplemental training resources, activity and document templates, and assessment materials for your use.

Discussion forums encourage new mentors to engage deeply with your mentoring practices, troubleshoot roadblocks and fine-tune and reflect on your own mentoring practices in a co-learning environment.

What is the time commitment for the CIRCLES Mentor Training Program?

The CIRCLES training curriculum is designed to be completed in fewer than five hours. However, we ask all mentors to ‘check in’ and engage with the CIRCLES community discussion forums regularly through your first semester of group facilitation. A central element of CIRCLES is co-learning, whether for our students or our facilitators.


What is the time commitment to lead a mentoring circle?

Depending on your circle, you should expect to meet with your circle at least once per month (minimally one hour per meeting); most groups will choose to meet biweekly, and a few will choose to meet weekly; as a facilitator, it is up to you to help your circle determine a meeting frequency that meets the group needs. 

We designed the CIRCLES Mentor Training Program to help launch self-sustaining mentoring groups and programs. As a facilitator, we ask that you commit at least one semester to your group. After that time, we love to see facilitators remain engaged, but we understand that obligations and time commitments can shift. 

As your time as group facilitator winds down, we encourage you to identify new facilitators from among your circle members or to recruit new facilitators from your unit or organization, and either share what you’ve learned with them or refer them to the CIRCLES Mentor Training Program.


Am I responsible for recruiting my own group participants?

If you are facilitating an identity-based SHADES or HUES circle on behalf of the Graduate College, the Graduate College will handle member recruitment. 

If you are applying to the CIRCLES Mentoring Training Program to start your own group within an academic unit or organization, we can offer recruitment strategies and consultation, but you will be responsible for building your own membership.


If I can’t commit to meeting with the frequency my circle needs, what happens?

For our identity-based circles, we recruit multiple co-facilitators. Ideally, we like all facilitators present at every circle meeting, but this allows flexibility in letting co-facilitators arrange a facilitation rotation if needed.

If you are starting a circle within your academic unit or graduate student organization, we suggest enlisting a co-mentor (or co-mentors) and following a similar strategy. Any co-mentors should complete the CIRCLES Mentor Training Program prior to facilitating sessions.


How large should a mentoring circle be?

We suggest that circles maintain a 1:5 mentor/participant ratio, with no more than fifteen participants total per circle. The larger the circle, the more difficult it can be to ensure all members have equal opportunity to share and engage meaningfully.


What if my circle gets too large?

For our identity-related circles, we cap participants at 15 members and encourage you to do the same with your circle. Should your circle grow beyond that, we encourage you to identify additional facilitators (they may even be longer-term participants in your group) to start up new circles (upon completing the CIRCLES Mentor Training Program).


How do I apply to be a facilitator of a circle or join the CIRCLES Mentor Training Program to start my own circle?

The CIRCLES Mentor Training Program will be recruiting its next learning cohort soon.

For more information, see our webpage or email zachary.blurton@asu.edu


If I’m applying to CIRCLES to start a mentoring group for my academic program, are there any additional requirements?

Yes. If you are a faculty member or staff affiliated with an academic unit and would like to join CIRCLES to launch a group for students in your program, your application must be accompanied by an endorsement from your unit lead or department chair. 

Join a Circle

Join a Circle

What are the benefits of group mentorship?

Peer-led co-learning environments offer community-building and development of informal mentoring resource networks.

They also lack the one-directional flow of information from mentor to mentee in a traditional one-to-one mentoring relationship and can be less intimidating to many students than traditional mentorship.

The co-learning emphasis of the group model is designed not only to give you a space in which to navigate identities or communities but to share your experiences and in doing so build your own sense of agency and internal validation.


How large are circles?

In general, we try to keep circles to 15 participants or fewer in order to allow all participants equal opportunity to contribute, to be heard and to facilitate greater connection opportunities within the circle.


What if I apply to join a circle, but it’s at capacity and closed. What happens next?

If a circle has reached its capacity, we close it and create a waitlist. Then, our team immediately recruits and trains facilitators to start a new circle. Once we have onboarded mentors, you’ll be notified that we’re opening the new circle. During the fall and spring semesters, this generally will occur within a month.


How often do circles meet? Do I have to attend every session?

Each circle determines how often and when it meets through its mandate or charter. All circles meet at least one hour per month. Many meet biweekly.

Attendance requirements will vary by circle and are at the discretion of the group and its facilitators collectively, but most circles ask that participants join as regularly as possible. 


What do circle meetings look like?

We describe our mentoring circles as a cross between a support group and a book club. As in a support group, participants share commonalities. In this case, all participants are your fellow graduate students and share either academic interests, cultures, or identities -- and the questions or challenges that accompany these.  Each circle is organized around its own specific goals as determined by and relevant to the needs of participants. 

Like a book club, meetings are discussion-based, with each circle determining its own discussion ‘agenda’ or ‘themes’ for every meeting. These themes relate to the common concerns, questions or challenges of the circle. 


Who are the circle mentors?

You all are. We refer to our mentoring groups as co-mentoring communities, where each participant has experiences, ideas, abilities or knowledge that contribute to the circle’s collective understanding.

Circles are led by trained facilitators. Facilitators may be graduate students, faculty or staff who share the same interests, affiliations or identities as the group members. Their role is to help establish the circle’s mandate and help prompt and share in the group discussions.


What are the circle membership requirements?

Circles are organized along either academic interests or affiliation (women in STEM, New College first-year graduate students, online graduate students) or identity (ethnic/racial minority students, LGBTQIA+ graduate students, international graduate students, first-generation graduate students, etc.). 

Circles are open to current ASU graduate students (including ASU Online); no fees are associated with any circle. Circles affiliated with a specific academic program or unit may have additional requirements or restrictions.


How do I apply to join a circle?

The online application form for the Graduate College’s identity-based mentoring circles can be found here

To find out if your program or organization has a circle, check with your academic unit or email zachary.blurton@asu.edu.