What to Look for in a High School Mentoring Program

A high school mentoring program helps students develop critical social skills, encourages academic achievement, and provides positive, life-enriching student experiences. Reality Changers provides mentorship programs for high school students and helps youth from underserved communities become college graduates.

Everybody needs mentoring in life, and most people will become mentors when they go out into the real world — and high school is no different. Whether you live in San Diego or elsewhere in the United States, knowing what to look for in high school mentoring programs is essential. 

This blog will examine different characteristics to consider in a college mentoring program for high school students, including potential pitfalls, benchmarks for success, and more. High school can be difficult for students who don’t feel that sense of belonging. Here, we discuss how mentoring programs can help students reconnect to their communities.


What is a mentorship program? It is a structured and organized platform that pairs individuals (mentees) with more experienced persons (mentors) in a supportive relationship. Such programs guide and foster the growth, learning, and development of the less experienced individual. While mentorship often brings to mind a professional setting, these relationships can exist in various domains, including academics, arts, sports, and personal development.

The essence of mentorship lies in knowledge transfer, where volunteer mentors share their insights, lessons, and experiences to help mentees navigate challenges, make informed decisions, and reach their goals more effectively. Good mentorship goes beyond just giving advice. It is a commitment to ensure the holistic development of the mentee, encompassing both academic/professional and personal growth.

A mentorship program offers a structured environment for this exchange, often setting clear goals, regular check-ins, and providing resources and support to enrich the mentor-mentee relationship. These programs can be found in schools, colleges, workplaces, and community organizations, aiming to bridge the knowledge gap, build confidence, and empower individuals to reach their potential.


A high school mentoring program can have a lasting impact on young lives. Positive benefits of such programs include lower dropout rates, increased graduation rates, improved self-esteem, and an increased chance at collegiate and professional success. Mentees often go on to do big things, thanks in no small part to the connections they made with their high school mentor.

Mentorship allows students to gain practical advice applicable throughout their personal and professional lives. Engaging in high school student mentoring programs enables mentees to enter the workforce or the collegiate setting with a leg up on their peers. After all, mentorship forges strong bonds at an especially pivotal time in a young person’s life. With so much uncertainty on the horizon, the stable presence of a mentor can make all the difference. 

One-on-one attention can also be helpful for mentees. In the classroom, students may feel lost in the crowd. Personal relationships with mentors can reinforce ideas and school lessons on a more practical level. Students benefit from more focused learning opportunities and gain a firmer grasp of the content.

Mentorship programs for high school students also provide young people with a better understanding of real-world expectations. These opportunities teach students how to engage professionally and politely at events with people of all backgrounds and experiences. While this often comes naturally over time, a high school mentor can show how interpersonal relationships work in the real world. This insight helps the mentee understand how to connect with others in a personable and considerate manner — skills that will be useful for decades. 


Finding a potential mentor might seem like a tall order, but many high school mentoring programs, like Reality Changers, exist to connect students with professional mentors. Beyond a formal program, it helps to take a step back and think of the people you admire most: a teacher, a coach, a religious leader, or a family member. A mentor can be anyone who knows you and is concerned about your well-being and personal growth.

Once you’ve identified a possible mentor, ask for an initial meeting. Reaching out to someone you admire, especially if they’re older or not well-known to you, can feel intimidating. However, there are ways to alleviate the pressure. You can ease your fears by remembering that the individuals you admire probably had mentors themselves at some point in their lives, and many are willing to assist others. If you’re keen to establish a connection, consider asking for a chat after class or practice.

During your initial meeting, prioritize casual connection. Most people are thrilled to take a break from work to connect personally. Have a list of one to three academic or college-related questions in mind, and let the discussion flow from there. You may want to ask things like:

  • Where did you go to college? Would you recommend the school? Why or why not?
  • What should I be doing now to help me make important decisions like choosing a major?
  • How did college prepare you for your current career?
  • Can we set up a time to talk further?

Always follow up such meetings with a thank you note. This message can set the tone for future discussions with your new mentor. A thoughtful note can leave things positive even if you didn’t click on a personal level and don’t see yourselves meeting in the future.


Diversity in mentoring programs is critical for developing a more comprehensive understanding of the world. Engaging with mentors from different cultural, social, and professional backgrounds can help students see the world from various viewpoints. For students from marginalized backgrounds, seeing a mentor who shares similar experiences can be incredibly empowering. Diverse student mentoring programs in high schools can do wonders to prepare students for a globalized world where it’s crucial to understand and embrace differences.


Mentoring high school students for college has a positive impact beyond the obvious academic aspects. Some of the positive benefits of high school mentoring programs include lower dropout rates, higher graduation rates, superior self-esteem, optimal attitude about school, increased chance at professional success, and many more.

Before joining a mentorship program for high school students, it helps to:

  • Watch for waiting lists. Students can’t afford to put their futures on hold. If you’re interested in a high school mentoring program with a long wait list, look for an alternative program. If you are in San Diego, consider Reality Changers. The organization has more than 21 years of experience with high school mentorship.
  • Research results. Research and verify the results if an organization touts its mentorship programs for high school students. Reality Changers provides accurate information about our accomplishments. See our most recent Annual Report for more details.
  • Take the decision seriously. For many students, finding the right college mentoring program is literally the difference between an uncertain future and uncapped success. Regardless of your background, your mentoring initiative should meet and exceed your current requirements to ensure a bright future. Do your homework before choosing an organization that mentors high school students – it could be one of your most important decisions!


Mentoring high school students for college has been shown to positively impact preparing today’s youth for academic (college) and professional (career) success.

But we’re changing the conventional reality at Reality Changers. For us, mentoring high school students is part of our culture. Our college mentoring programs for high school students prepare San Diego-area youth for a future they never thought possible. We believe in the boundless potential of every child in our region — that same core belief should be part of whatever high school mentoring programs you’re considering signing up for.

Our unique mentorship programs for high school students set up a framework and incentives for academic achievement. You can support these essential programs for underserved youth. Make a donation today.


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