Got Mentors?

I recently gave my “College Success Guaranteed” talk to a group of 11th grade high school students in Montreal.  (Note: High school concludes at 11th grade in Quebec.)  These were motivated, achieving kids at a highly respected (and deservedly so) boys school.  Per usual, my remarks were organized around my 5 Rules:

1) Go to class.
2) Study: 3 hours X 5 days per week.
3) Commit to something
4) Get a mentor.
5) Procrastination kills

While discussing Rule #4, I attempted to engage the kids with a seemingly innocuous question: “How many of you have an important mentor in your life?”  Not one hand went up.  I pressed them to think about it.  No hands.  That got me to thinking.

First off, during my day at the school I saw many teachers fully engaged with students, so I knew this couldn’t be true.

Why, then, did these kids not want to acknowledge mentors in their lives?  Driving home, I came up with three possible answers:

1) These kids do not perceive the very advantages they enjoy, suggesting that they might need to develop and cultivate a more objective perception of their lives.

2) Mentors are not perceived as “cool.” That’s too bad.  (I wonder: Would I have gotten a different response at a girls school?)

3) Maybe their parents have them in such a “helicopterish” head lock that new mentors are prevented from entering their lives.

I’m going to think some more on this mentor thing and get back to you on three points.  In the meantime, I welcome your comments and hope you’ll share in the discussion.

Onward,  Malcolm Gauld