Skip to main content
Enrich Your Experience

Enrich your experience

CIRCLES Mentoring FAQs

To see if CIRCLES might be a good fit for your own unit or organization's needs, review our frequently asked questions.

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 based on shared identities or interests in an informal small-group setting.

How do students benefit from CIRCLES Mentoring?

The Graduate College has offered 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 seeking connection with others around a shared identity or identities.

CIRCLES has also been adapted by academic units seeking to create space for themed community dialogues in an informal environment bereft of traditional classroom power dynamics.

For many students, peer-led group mentorship is less daunting than traditional one-to-one faculty mentorship, coaching or advising. Supportive group dynamics can lead to sustained collective inquiry and provides participants a sense of agency in helping drive dialogue and mutual learning.

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

CIRCLES has been adapted by academic units, student groups, and community organizations to strengthen affinity to and between their constituents/participants, establish stronger in-group relationships and trust, and create a sense of shared identity among community members.

How much effort does it take to develop, launch and maintain a CIRCLE?

We recommend that launching a CIRCLES group not be an individual effort, but something with unit/organizational support.

You'll want one trained group facilitator per 5 group participants, generally. Groups work best when they have between 8 - 12 participants.

Depending on the size of your group and how formal you need its structure to be, your group might also require administrative support for maintenance of group rosters and data, communication to participants, participant and facilitator recruitment, and facilitator selection and training.

Facilitators are responsible for developing or facilitating development of discussion topics, convening group meetings, and leading/moderating discussion.

What does group membership look like?

In the CIRCLES framework, groups may be either open (participants are free to join whenver and as often as they wish) or closed (group is by invitation-only or by application, and members are encouraged to attend each meeting).

What support does the Graduate College provide?

We provide initial consultation and can work with you to develop your group mandate. We also have informational powerpoint templates for recruitment use and a Canvas-based training module that outlines facilitator expectations and provides a template and sample activities for the first group meetings.