Managing Your Mentoring Program

Creating the “behind-the-scenes” components of your program is just as important a task as developing engaging activities for mentors to facilitate with students. A well-managed program runs more smoothly—a factor that reinforces your credibility with grant makers, employers, and the general public. Documentation of all the program components is critical; it allows you to replicate program successes and remedy problems. Consider entering mentor and mentee information into an electronic database for easy mentor-mentee matching and data retrieval.

Keep a binder with the following information close at hand:

Use the questions that follow to review the mechanisms you already have in place for managing your mentoring program and to identify areas that need improvement.

  1. What elements will go into your step-by-step written procedure for monitoring the program’s activities? How will you collect and maintain mentor records regarding activities, hours, students served, etc.?
  2. How often do you feel program participants should be contacted and what questions should they be asked each time?
  3. How will stakeholders play a role in the management of the mentoring program? What information will you seek from your advisory group? From school administrators? From parents? From mentees?

Because the participants in your mentoring program are students, you will need to comply with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), the federal law designed to protect the privacy of students’ personal information. Under FERPA, college students and the parents of minor or dependent students have the right to view their educational records and to control their release. With a few exceptions, the school must ask college students or parents of minor students for written permission to release student information. If you are not familiar with this law, you will probably want to learn more about the exceptions. For example, directory information and observed behavior can be disclosed but student records cannot.1 (For more information, download a Frequently Asked Questions file about FERPA.) Another situation of interest to mentoring program coordinators, particularly if your program relies on computers as a communication vehicle, is logging of students’ computer use and collection of related log data. In an effort to “identify where technology logging and monitoring for increased safety end and violations of student privacy begin,” the NSF funded LAMP—the Logging and Monitoring Project. The LAMP report examines whether individual student’s identities can be ascertained from logged data, whether that data constitutes “educational records,” and offers guidelines for colleges as they address logging practices on their campuses.2

  1. What means will you use to preserve student confidentiality (as appropriate)?
  2. How will you ensure that mentors, students and parents/caregivers understand your program’s policy regarding meeting outside of the program? (This is only an issue if students are minors.)
  3. How will you track program benchmarks and assess progress in meeting your program goals? (e.g., use of quantifiable objectives and goals, gathering of qualitative data, pre- and post-mentoring surveys)
  4. What factors will you use to assess whether you’re meeting the objectives and goals as established?

1.“Family Educational Records and Privacy Act,” Family Compliance Office, U.S. Department of Education.

2.Final Report, National Science Foundation LAMP Project. American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officials, Washington, DC 2001.