MCLAUGHLIN AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, W.Va. --
4 Reasons to Find a Mentor
If money is your hope for independence, you will never have it. The only real security that a man will have in this world is a reserve of knowledge, experience, and ability," said Henry Ford, one of the nation's great inventors and entrepreneurs. The U.S. armed forces can provide the experience and ability, but it is up to every Soldier, Sailor and Airman to seek knowledge. Continuing education is one way to follow Ford's advice. Educational mentors can help service members find their way in a confusing world of college courses, catalogs, and credits.
Reason #1 - Getting Started
Starting school perhaps while supporting a family can be overwhelming. A mentor can provide guidance, direction, and insight to other service members just starting their educational journey. Understanding how to maneuver through college catalogs and degree requirements is invaluable information to someone who is just beginning their course work.
Reason #2 - Experience
Service members often mention finances, time constraints, and child care issues as reasons they do not continue their education. Mentors can help address small personal issues that may arise when a service member starts back to school. Mentors can provide solutions and guidance based on personal experience. They've been there and can usually relate to other military students in ways that a college counselor can't. Mentors can also point out resources and explain how to use similar programs to their best advantage. Mentors have walked that educational path already and are in a good position to share their experiences, both good and bad.
Reason #3 - Encouragement
When juggling family, military duty, and mid-terms, service members may feel a lot of pressure. Mentors can offer encouragement and support. They can help service members learn to balance the demands of the military, their family, and their education. Mentors can help keep in perspective how the sacrifices service members make today will pay off tomorrow, especially when they return to civilian life.
Reason #4 - Personalized Guidance
Mentoring is about taking care of service members first and taking the time to be there for them when it starts getting tough. The one-on-one relationship provides the opportunity for a mentor to really know a service member's needs and interests, which results in more personalized guidance. Talking about interests with a mentor can focus the field of available degrees and save valuable time by avoiding unnecessary courses, especially if someone feels directionless when he or she first starts out.
Finding a Mentor
There is almost always someone furthering their education in every command. Start asking questions of those you know have or are attending school. Most people are more than happy to share their experience and knowledge. Knowledge is something no one can take away from you. Taking that first step may be the hardest, but it doesn't have to be taken alone.