Lesson 1

Social Support

The various types of assistance that people receive from others, including emotional support, career or academic guidance, and practical help. Here are some examples of social support.

Emotional Support can be listening when you have a personal or private issue that is worrying you, or spending time with you when you feel down or stressed out.

Tangible Support is when someone lends or gives you something you need, or pitches in to help you with something you need to do. For example, someone runs an errand for you, lends you money, food, or clothes, or drives you somewhere you need to go.

Informational Support is giving advice or information, like helping you figure out where to get something or how to do something you need to do.
Examples of information support are guidance counseling, helping with a financial aid application, or giving you a recommendation/job reference letter.

Companionship is getting together with someone and to relax or have fun, often over shared interests. Examples of companionship are getting lunch together between classes, and playing soccer together on the weekends.

Social Capital

Social capital refers to the networks of relationships between an individual and other people that allow the individual to be more successful. Collectively, all of the individuals in your life who provide different types of social support constitute your social capital. Here are some examples of social capital at work.

Building Academic Success
Dennis becomes friends with a dorm-mate who is a math major, and she helps him every time he gets stuck on his statistics homework.

Advancing Academic Goals
Leslie becomes close with a professor who has a friend and colleague that works in one of Leslie’s favorite graduate programs, and the professor puts in a good word for her when she applies.

Advancing Career Goals
Daria’s best friend’s mother is a lawyer—Daria’s dream career. So she agrees to let him shadow her at work for a day, and offers him a summer internship in her office.

Conflict Resolution Strategies

Ccheck out the “Conflict Resolution Strategies” sheet in your  in your Connected Futures Toolbox for some skills and resources for resolving conflict.

Lesson 2

Relationships Come in All Forms

Relationships can come in all different forms. Some are close relationships with people you see often. Some might be with people who see or talk to only occasionally, but you still value your relationship with them. And some can even be tense or marked by conflict. Click on the bubbles below to learn more about different types of relationships you can have with your social supports.

Strong Ties
People we have strong connections with, see often, and rely on for emotional support.
Examples: close friends, family members

Weak Ties
People we aren’t necessarily close to, but we know and can rely on for certain kinds of support, like advice or information.
Examples: a friend of a parent, an employer, a professor

Conflictual Ties
People we may receive some kind of support from, but currently have strained relationships with. Only include conflictual relationships that have the potential for repair in your thinking.
Example: A coach you used to rely on for support and advice…but recently he has been upset with you for missing several practices, and you are angry with him because he benched you in the last game.

Eco-Map Worksheet

You can find an eco-map worksheet in your Connected Futures Toolbox. As your social capital shifts or grows over time, return to this tool to help you map out areas for improvement.

Evaluate your Eco-Map

That’s OK, that’s exactly what this program is for. Many students begin college needing to gain more relationships with adults and peers. This program was created to assist students create all different types of relationships, so let’s keep going!

It’s great you have so many strong ties in your life! It’s important that you have a lot of support, but it’s just as crucial to create relationships with other adults that can help you with career advice, research experience or academic needs. As we go through the lessons, think about ways to reach out to people who could serve as weak ties and help you with things like academic support or choosing a career.

It’s great that you have access to weak ties—that will serve you well as you navigate college. Creating stronger relationships with adults who can support you is one of the main parts of all of our lessons. As we go through the lesson plans, really focus on which adults you could potentially feel comfortable going to for encouragement or personal advice.

College is a stressful time, and it can be even harder when you’re dealing with stressful relationships. As you go through the lesson plans, try to focus on building stronger relationships with adults you feel comfortable going to for personal advice—they may be able to help you with ongoing conflict in other relationships. If you’re interested, check out the “Conflict Resolution Strategies” sheet in your Toolbox for some skills and resources for resolving conflict.

Why Network?

Networking is critical to expanding your social support and social capital in lots of ways. Networking can you help you decide what academic or career paths you’re even interested in—you might not realize, until you talk with other people who are currently working in a particular field—that it’s not a good fit for you after all!

Networking in the field you are interested in can also help you learn more about career options in that field. You might be surprised to discover what jobs a certain degree program can create opportunities for down the road.

And finally, people you meet through networking can help you in the future—providing you with letters of recommendation or serving as references, opening doors to internships and job opportunities you wouldn’t have known about otherwise, offering advice about how to be successful, and much more.

Read through several examples of the different ways that networking may be useful to a college student as they progress throughout their college years below.

As Yousef starts off college, he’s completely unsure what kind of major he wants to pursue. He’s never even heard of half of the majors he sees listed on the college website. He brings up this concern with his residential advisor (RA), who suggests that he reach out to career services. Yousef decides to follow his advice, and makes an appointment with a career counselor. The career counselor walks him through several questionnaires and exercises to help him identify that math and analytical reasoning are real areas of strength and interest for him. The counselor connects him with several academic departments, including math, computer science, and accounting, so that he can explore different kinds of courses that match with his interests.

When Yousef enters his second year in college, he decides to declare a computer science major. He’s enjoyed his computer science courses a lot, but he still has no idea what kinds of jobs he could do with that sort of degree. He feels overwhelmed by all the information online and doesn’t know where to begin. He reaches out to a professor that he’s taken a few computer science courses with, Prof. Reese, and asks if they can meet to discuss his interests and potential career options. During their conversation, Prof. Reese mentions that some computer science majors become web developers. She connects Yousef to a recent graduate who works in web development, and Yousef sets up a time to meet with him and shadow him for a day as he works. As the day progresses, it becomes clear that web development does not involve the kind of work that Yousef would enjoy long-term. He feels disappointed, but proud of himself for taking steps to find a meaningful career. He decides to make another appointment with career services to explore professional contacts in other computer science careers.

Throughout his second and third year of college, Yousef stays in touch with Prof. Reese as he considers different career paths. He takes an advanced seminar with her in his third year, and even does some independent research with her over the summer. As he approaches his final year of college, Yousef decides that he’d like to get at job as an IT project manager after college. It’s a role where he would be working on a team and using his strong interpersonal skills, while also using his technical abilities to develop software or apps. When he asks Prof. Reese for a letter of reference for his job applications, she enthusiastically agrees. And she even offers to review Yousef’s resume and application materials before he sends them in.


Reaching Out

But how exactly should you go about reaching out to someone, especially if you don’t know them well? The thought of reaching out to a new mentor, or of doing an interview for Connected Futures, can be intimidating! But our program has lots of resources to get you started. Let’s talk about how to ask someone to talk to you about something you need help with. Here are some general ingredients that usually go into a successful request for a meeting.

  • Introduce Yourself

    Introduce yourself, and include all the relevant information the adult might need about you. Don’t necessarily assume that the adult will recognize or remember you if your previous interactions have been brief.

  • When is a good time to talk?

    Politely ask when a good time would be to have a conversation, including day, time and location, and approximately how long the meeting will last.

  • Make an Appointment

    Make an appointment for either an in-person or phone conversation. Set a date, time and place.  Try to arrange an in-person meeting if possible.

  • Thanks!

    Thank the person for their time and willingness to talk and express excitement for the meeting. For example, you could say “I look forward to talking with you.”

Networking Map

You can find a blank copy of a Networking Map in your Connected Futures Toolbox.

Pulling it all Together

Now let’s take a look at some examples to pull it all together. Think back to Jose’s situation. For one column of his Networking Map, he decided to write an email to his political science professor, Prof. Jackson. Jose has really enjoyed Prof. Jackson’s class this semester, and knows that she has a law degree. Jose thinks that Prof. Jackson could be a helpful source of information for undergraduate opportunities for research and internships in law, as well as potentially connecting him to her colleagues who are still practicing lawyers. Here is an email Jose wrote to Prof. Jackson to ask about setting up a meeting with her.

Subject: request for a meeting

Dear Professor Jackson,

I hope you had a good weekend! My name is José and I’m a third-year student in your political science course this semester. I have really enjoyed taking your class, and it has solidified my desire to pursue a career in law. I am reaching out to see whether you would be willing to meet with me some time over the next few weeks to discuss your experience as a lawyer, as well as any opportunities you may know of that would be good for me to look into. I am hoping to apply to law school after I graduate and I would love to hear about ways to get more experience in the field.

I am always free after 12:00 pm on Monday through Friday, but please let me know if there is a better time for you. I look forward to hearing from you, and thanks so much for considering meeting with me. I’ll see you in class on Tuesday!


Asking in person, or over the phone or an Internet conferencing tool, can also be effective. View the two videos below for short examples of effective ways of asking someone to meet with you, for your interview for the Connected Futures program, or for another reason related to your interests and goals.

Reaching Out

to someone you don’t know

Billy is reaching out to someone he’s never met before – a difficult task for some! He met with a career counselor, Ms. Brown who gave him the contact information for a recent alumnus who went into his desired career, physical therapy. Ms. Brown encouraged Billy to reach out to the alumnus, Jack Hayes, to get more information about what working as a physical therapist is like.

Reaching Out

to someone you don’t know

Billy is reaching out to someone he’s never met before – a difficult task for some! He met with a career counselor, Ms. Brown who gave him the contact information for a recent alumnus who went into his desired career, physical therapy. Ms. Brown encouraged Billy to reach out to the alumnus, Jack Hayes, to get more information about what working as a physical therapist is like.

Reaching Out

to an acquaintance

Sadie is reaching out to her mom’s good friend, Mrs. Davis about her job as an investigative journalist. Sadie is around the same age as Mrs. Davis’s daughter, and knows Mrs. Davis pretty well, although they haven’t spoken much within the past year.

Reaching Out

to an acquaintance

Sadie is reaching out to her mom’s good friend, Mrs. Davis about her job as an investigative journalist. Sadie is around the same age as Mrs. Davis’s daughter, and knows Mrs. Davis pretty well, although they haven’t spoken much within the past year.

How’d they do?

Notice how Nicola and Katie both used many of the tips for reaching out to someone within a networking context. They started off the calls with a brief summary of the relevant information for the call. For Katie, it was especially important to introduce herself and give a clear explanation for why she was calling. No matter how well you know the person on the call, it’s important to be polite and flexible when scheduling the meeting, and to take responsibility for setting up the details (e.g., getting an address for the meeting location, sending out video conference links). And remember to finish up the call with a reminder about how much you appreciate the other person’s time—this can go a long way, even if it seems obvious.

Tips for writing emails requesting a meeting with someone, as well as email templates are always accessible in your toolbox if you want to view them again later! [SB: add PDF for Tips for setting up Networking Meetings to toolbox]

Tips for Requesting Meetings via Email

Tips for writing emails requesting a meeting with someone, as well as email templates are always accessible in your Connected Futures Toolbox.

How should Aya respond

It’s okay for Aya to feel disappointed or embarrassed that her professor was not available to work with her this semester. However, Ava should still respond to the email to maintain a positive relationship with this professor. Then she can move on to finding someone who is available to work with her!

Great! That’s a good option. Even if Aya is bummed about not being able to work with this professor, responding politely shows that she is still grateful that the professor took the time to respond at all. She can now brainstorm new people to reach out to that may be able to work with her.

Great! Although it may not have been the response she wanted, Aya can take this opportunity to thank the professor for responding and ask if they have any suggestions for other faculty members who may be free to work with her this semester. It never hurts to ask, and in the meantime, Ava can continue researching additional options on her own!

Why did my Professor Say No?

Let’s think back to Aya and her math professor. Aya feels really anxious when she reads the email from her professor saying that her professor is too busy to consider working with her this semester.

Step 1: Identify your Feeling
Try to identify the thought that is attached to your feeling, and write it down.
Why is Aya feeling so anxious? She sits down with a pen and paper and realizes that she is having the worried thought, “Maybe I’m not doing well in the course, and that’s why the professor isn’t interested in working with me.”

Step 2: Brainstorm for Reasons
Brainstorm other reasons for the same event, no matter how unlikely they may seem. Try to really “think outside the box” and brainstorm as many reasons as possible. Sometimes it can be helpful to have a trusted friend or family member help you with this process. Write down all of the possibilities you come up with and allow them to share the pie chart of possibilities with your original thought.

Lesson 3

4 Ingredients of a Successful Meeting

When preparing for a meeting with a potential mentor, it’s important to consider four different domains of managing a meeting or interview skillfully. Click through each of the sections below to learn more.

1: First Impression
A first impression is the first thing a person observes about another person, and can involve the person’s approach, attitude, or appearance. It’s important to consider first impressions any time you’re meeting with someone early on in your relationship–even if it’s not the very first time, it might be the first time they are paying attention and remember!

Here are some ideas for making a good first impression:

  • Communicate effectively about all details of the meeting beforehand (e.g., meeting location, videoconference links, meeting time, etc.)
  • Arrive on time and communicate if you must be late
  • Make eye contact upon meeting someone
  • Smile and introduce yourself

To make a good first impression, you might also want to consider your appearance.

2. Appearance
Have you ever heard of the saying, “dress for the job you want?” This saying is highlighting how important appearance can be in the success of a business interaction. The same is true of any meeting where you’re trying to build your social network and grow your social capital!

Before any meeting, think about the setting—will this be a casual meeting for coffee? Or a meeting at a potential mentor’s workplace where you will be walking around an office and meeting others who are dressed in formal business clothing? Or maybe a video-conference call on Zoom, WebEx, or Skype?

Try to think through how to make a good impression based on your appearance for that particular setting. Here are some common examples for settings in the U.S. But it’s important to remember that these are only examples based on what you’d commonly see in work or school settings in the U.S. — traditional clothing or accessories common in many cultures (e.g., hijab, turban, sari) are also appropriate and acceptable within most business casual and business formal settings in the U.S.

Business Formal / Business Professional

business formal example

  • Wear for job interviews, or when meeting with adults in a business formal workplace
  • Suit attire: dress slacks or skirt, collared shirt, blazer/suit jacket, tie for male-identifying individuals
  • Close-toed dress shoes
  • Neutral colors like black, brown, white, grey, and navy blue
  • Small, simple accessories (if any)

Business Casual

  • Wear for day-to-day work attire in many offices (check your workplace’s dress code)
  • Collared shirt with a sweater, slacks or skirt, and tie optional
  • Close-toed dress shoes
  • More range in colors, such as an accented shirt with neutral colored pants

Informal, but Professional

  • Wear for meetings with professors or mentors you already know, or for more informal “drop-in” settings like office hours
  • Can include jeans or khakis
  • Avoid joggers/athletic wear, shorts, and unnecessary hats/beanies
  • When possible, choose a blouse or collared shirt instead of t-shirt

Dressing for Meetings

You can always find these examples, and more, in the “Dressing for Meetings” document in your Connected Futures Toolbox. If you don’t already, it might be helpful to borrow or purchase some examples of “business casual” and “business formal” clothing items that you can have on hand for networking and other meetings. Remember that even if you’re meeting through a video-conference call, it’s important to dress and present yourself as if you were meeting in-person. Try to follow the guidelines of the particular work place you’re in, and when you’re unsure, it’s always safer to overdress rather than underdress.
[toolbox item]

3. Effective Behavior

This is one of the biggest components of professionalism—what do you actually do in your meeting. Professional behavior can show up in lots of ways during a meeting, from your facial expressions (e.g., smiling, laughing) and body language (e.g., sitting up straight, leaning forward) to your level of engagement (e.g., asking questions).

Here are some common examples of effective meeting or interview behaviors. Think about how these may look in the interview you will do after this lesson.

  • Put away your phone before meeting someone
  • Give full attention to someone who is speaking to you, appear focused
  • Make eye contact. If you’re on a video-conference call, set it up so you can look directly into the camera when the other person is speaking.
  • Avoid interrupting
  • Smile and show you are excited to be there
  • Prepare! Think ahead of time about what you might say, including questions for the other person and information you may be asked to share about yourself.
  • Ask questions about the topic of discussion
  • Speak clearly and enunciate, particularly if you’re on a video-conference or phone call
  • Say thank you as you leave or end the call

4. Follow-Through

Finally, a big part of how you come across in meetings involves following through on any promises or commitments. Before your meeting, think through any tasks required of you for this meeting. Were you asked to bring a resumé with you? Did you promise to email a list of the courses you’ve taken before a meeting with an academic advisor or potential academic mentor? Do you need to send out an email invitation with a video-conference link?

What about after your meeting—did you commit to following up on anything during your meeting? Perhaps you agreed to email additional information to the other person, or perhaps they shared a contact’s name, and you agreed to reach out and network with that person. Make a note for yourself during the meeting, and be sure to follow-through promptly after the meeting, asking for help if needed!

Dressing for Meetings

You can find these examples, and more, in the “Dressing for Meetings” document in your Connected Futures Toolbox. If you don’t already have a business wardrobe, it might be helpful to borrow or purchase some examples of “business casual” and “business formal” clothing items that you can have on hand for networking and other meetings. Remember that even if you’re meeting through a video-conference call, it’s important to dress and present yourself as if you were meeting in-person. Try to follow the guidelines of the particular work place you’re in, and when you’re unsure, it’s always safer to overdress rather than underdress.

The Interview: Getting Started

Now let’s talk a little more about specific tips for effective communication when you’re meeting with an adult for Connected Futures. A lot of students struggle the most with starting a meeting. They’re not sure what to say when they first meet with the other person—even if it’s someone they know fairly well! Here are some ideas:

1. Introduce Yourself
First, introduce yourself and say hi. If you’re interviewing someone you know really well (like a strong tie from your eco-map), then you probably don’t need to introduce yourself! But for everyone else, start the conversation by saying hi, reminding them of your name as needed, giving a firm handshake if you’re meeting in-person, and making eye contact—communicate confidence. This is important, even if it’s someone you already know, like a professor or advisor. Remember they often meet with a lot of students every day, so this is a friendly way to remind them of who you are.

2. Prepare an “Elevator Speech” Introduction
This is a brief introduction about yourself, your interests, and the purpose of the meeting. It really shouldn’t be longer than one or two minutes—the length of time you might have to explain something on an elevator ride…hence the name! For example, if you’re talking to someone in your desired career, you might explain why you’re interested in a particular field and your hopes for finding out more about this career from them during your meeting.

A Note on Pronouns

Many colleges/universities and workplaces are moving toward more inclusive language that acknowledges that some individuals may identify with being gender nonconforming or nonbinary. These individuals may prefer gender neutral pronouns such as “they/them” instead of “he/him” or “she/her.” To acknowledge this fact, some settings invite each person to share the “personal pronouns” that they use. You may notice that some people identify their personal pronouns in their email signature, or you may meet with a potential mentor who introduces their personal pronouns along with their name (e.g., “It’s so great to meet you! I’m Dr. Julia and I use she/her pronouns.”). If you’re comfortable, it’s perfectly appropriate and respectful to respond by identifying your own pronouns. For more information, check out mypronouns.org.

The Interview: Asking Questions

OK, so let’s say you successfully got things started—what should you be doing during the meeting? Whenever you’re the one who set up a meeting, it’s important to realize that you should be asking more of the questions. So have some questions prepared ahead of time. How should you pick your questions? We’ll discuss that in just a second.

Even though you’re well-prepared, try to be flexible. Let the conversation flow. It’s okay if you don’t get to all of your questions if the person you are talking to has a lot to say in response to one question.

How can you ask good questions? Here are two main guidelines:

1. Be Clear About the Goal of the Interview
First, be clear about the goal of your interview. Are you hoping to learn more about a certain academic major/minor? Are you hoping to hear more about how to be successful on a potential career path? Or are you looking to learn more about a person’s own experiences with mentoring? Here are some examples:

For an interview with an aunt you’re close with about her experiences with mentoring you might ask: Did you have a mentor(s) or important supportive adult other than your parents in your life when you were my age? And if so, what are some of the ways this person(s) helped you out?

For an interview with a career counselor advisor about finding jobs at non-profit companies, you might ask: What would you say are the most important qualities of successful applications to work in a non-profit? What kinds of elective courses and/or academic majors do you think would be most helpful for succeeding in a non-profit career?

2. Ask Questions that Allow People to Share
Second, ask questions that allow people to share rather than to respond with yes or no.

Rather than… “Did you have any negative mentoring experiences?” you could ask… “What do you think gets in the way of mentoring relationships between college students and adults?”

Rather than… “Do you think I’d be a good fit for applying to Ph.D. programs in history?” you could ask… “What kinds of qualities do history Ph.D. programs usually look for in their applicants?”

Rather than… “Is being a marketing manager at this company fun?” you could ask… “What does a typical day look like for you?”

The Interview: Follow-up

Last, let’s talk about things to consider at the end of a meeting with someone. How should you wrap things up? What kinds of things should you make sure to discuss before leaving? Here are some ideas:

1. Say Thank You
Thank them for their time at the end of the conversation. Even if it’s someone you know really well!

2. Discuss Follow-up
Explicitly discuss follow-up and how you will keep in touch.
You could say…
Would you mind if I contacted you in the future with any additional questions? If so, what would be the best way to get in touch with you—do you prefer that I email, call, or schedule another meeting?

3. Ask for Feedback
This won’t apply in every situation, but sometimes you might ask for feedback at the end of the interview. If you know the adult well, you could consider asking for advice about your performance during the interview, or what you could do differently in future meetings with adults.

Preparing for an Interview

The “Preparing for an Interview” guide in your Toolbox summarizes these interview tips. You can always find this handout in your Toolbox.

Pro Tip: Selecting and Remembering Questions

If you want an easy way to choose and remember questions from a large pool of suggestions, you can download our Connected Futures app from the App Store to use on your smartphone. This app helps you build out entire interviews, and even record responses to those questions. 

[link to app ?]

The Interview

Thank You Notes Guide

Check out our “Thank You Notes” guide and review templates for thank you notes for different kinds of situations in your Toolbox!

Preparing for an Interview

After you finish this lesson, you will pull all these ideas together to conduct an interview of your own. Using some of the tips outlined earlier, you’ll reach out to set up a meeting, prepare your questions, and complete an interview with at least one adult. The interview could be about their experiences with mentoring, or a common area of interest (career or academic). If at all possible, you should try to do the interview in-person or as a video-conference call (rather than over the phone).

Take a few moments to get ready for your interview.

Your Subject
Look back to Lesson 2 for a reminder of the person you identified for your interview.
[Can the name entered in a previous exercise be displayed here?]

Set a Goal for the Interview
What is your goal for the interview? Are you hoping to hear more about their experiences with mentoring, in order to inform your own approach to mentoring? Or are you looking to learn more about a specific academic or career area?

Prepare Questions
As you think about this goal, begin to prepare the questions you might ask in the interview. Take a look at the “Preparing for an Interview” sheet in your Toolbox, which includes sample questions for interviews with potential mentors. Select a set of questions that you think could be helpful in getting the conversation going. Type up or write down your question ideas. Remember that preparation is key to an effective interview, even if it’s with someone you know well!

Lesson 4

Finding Support On Campus

Knowing that on-campus support is useful is one thing–but where should you go to actually find it? This will vary from school to school, and will also depend on other factors, like whether you are learning online, commuting to classes, or living on-campus.

But regardless of what college you’re attending and how you’re learning, there are several kinds of adults that work for most colleges and universities. Click through the examples below to see some common staff members on college campuses that can be helpful resources for college students.

Career Services
Lots of students turn to career services only when they’re looking for a job or career after college, but career services staff can help students with a variety of different things, starting from your very first year of college. Career services can help you explore different academic majors and career options, build connections with alumni who have similar careers to your interests, write a professional resume, practice interview skills, apply to graduate schools, or find internships or volunteer positions that fit your interests.

Student Disability Services
Colleges typically have staff committed to ensuring that students are able to obtain effective academic accommodations like extra time on tests and assignments or help with note-taking. Any time you think that you might need some sort of accommodation to help you perform academically while you’re struggling with a physical, emotional, or other kind of health problem, you can contact this office. This is true whether you’re learning online, on campus, or anything in between.

Centers for Student Diversity or Multicultural Affairs
This office can have a few different names, but typically it is a person or office intended to promote diversity and inclusion of all students, faculty, and staff at the college. This office helps to raise awareness about students’ diverse backgrounds, and may conduct trainings for students, faculty, and staff about strategies for reducing discrimination or bias on campus. It may also sponsor or support student groups created around a shared identity (e.g., a Black Student Association, or LGBTQIA+ Student Association). You can contact this office if you have experienced discrimination or harassment on campus. They are also a great resource if you are looking for a way to connect with others on campus who share your identity, or if you are looking to become more involved in advocacy for certain marginalized voices on campus.

Registrar or Academic Records
Staff in this office are generally responsible for everything having to do with enrollment, course registration, credit transfers, grade records, and transcripts and diplomas. Any time that you’re having an issue with something like course registration or transferring credits, they can be very helpful to check with.

Counseling or Student Psychological Services
Counseling services on campus are designed to support the emotional health of students and typically go far beyond traditional, one-on-one psychotherapy. Many college counseling centers provide classes on topics like time management or stress reduction, yoga or meditation classes, and support groups for students struggling with a particular stressor (e.g., a family member with addiction, or coping with grief). Counseling services can also include crisis counseling after hours, providing consultation to students who are worried about someone else (e.g., a roommate or family member), and referral to other community clinics off-campus that may be more appropriate for a particular student. Many of these services are free or low-cost to students, and are offered virtually or over the phone for students not on campus, so they’re worth checking out!

Advisors for Student Clubs
Extracurricular activities like clubs or interest groups are not only a great way to connect with more senior peers on campus—often they will also have an assigned faculty or staff member who serves as the club advisor. This can be a great way to connect with a professor or other campus-based adult outside of the classroom, on a regular basis, and around a shared interest or shared identity.

College Support Guide

Check out a longer list of the typical supports provided by colleges in the U.S. in the“College Support Guide” in your Toolbox.

Professor Connections

To review these tips and more for connecting with professors, and review these tips at any time by navigating to the “Professor Connections” document in your Toolbox.

Connecting with Key Resources through Professors

Connecting with professors is also a great way to get to know other key adults on campus. Click through the vignettes below to hear about ways in which students were able to connect with key resources at college by speaking with their professors.

Mohammad has been feeling really down…
and low-energy recently, to the point where he’s not able to complete his coursework, and doesn’t even feel like socializing. He suspects he might be experiencing depression, but he’s an online learner and is concerned that his school’s free counseling services may not be available to him remotely. He doesn’t have the financial resources to pay for counseling services that aren’t free or covered by his insurance. He reaches out to a professor from his Abnormal Psychology course, because the professor mentioned she was a licensed clinical psychologist during class. The professor reassures him that help is available. She sends him the relevant information for contacting a social worker at the college counseling center, and lets him know what he can expect from the call. When he follows up on his professor’s suggestion, the social worker does a phone evaluation with Mohammad, and then provides him with referrals for three clinicians near his home who offer counseling services to individuals with his insurance.

Kiara has been feeling really uncomfortable in her dorm…
recently. She is the only Black student on her hall, and frequently experiences micro-aggressions related to her race. Her hallmates often express surprise when they learn that she went a prestigious private high school nearby, and they seem to change the topic any time that Kiara is around when a conversation about hair or makeup comes up while they’re getting ready to go out. More recently, Kiara woke up to find “All Lives Matter” written on her door’s message whiteboard after she’d been out attending a Black Lives Matter event on campus. Kiara is worried that others on her predominantly-white college campus may think she is overreacting if she brings up these issues. With some hesitation, she approaches the professor of her African American studies course about her concerns. The professor immediately validates her experience, and shares some of his own encounters with micro-aggressions and racism while on campus. He gives her information about the Black Students Association (BSA) on campus, which he is the advisor for, and encourages her to attend the next meeting. Through the BSA, Kiara is able to meet faculty and students who share her identity and understand her experiences, and she also gets connected to staff in Residential Life who are able to help her switch dorms.

Tina mentions that she’s really struggling …
Tina is a research assistant for her anthropology professor, Dr. Winter, and meets with Dr. Winter and other research assistants weekly during research team meetings. One week, during an informal conversation before a research team meeting, Tina mentions that she’s really struggling with writing a long research paper for one of her upper level anthropology courses (not taught by Dr. Winter). The other undergraduate research assistants commiserate with Tina, noting that they’ve all heard that particular course is really difficult. Dr. Winter asks Tina and the other students if they’ve ever met with the research librarian who specializes in anthropology topics at the school’s library. Tina has never even heard of that option on campus before. Dr. Winter explains that the research librarian has appointments each week to help students with the process of finding sources for research papers, and mentions that, even as a professor, she collaborates with the research librarian all the time for her own teaching and research. Dr. Winter demonstrates how to navigate the online portal for making an appointment with the research librarian assigned to anthropology. As a bonus, one of the graduate student researchers on the team then mentions that her good friend, another graduate student, is the assigned tutor for anthropology at the Tutoring Services Center, and suggests that Tina get in touch with him for added support with the paper.

Building Connections for Online Learners or Off-Campus Students

It isn’t always easy to meet with faculty in-person. Students who take classes online from a remote location, or who commute to campus from their family’s home, have a different experience than students who live amongst their peers and take classes on campus. It can be particularly difficult to form connections with professors when you only ever meet them virtually, or when your time on campus is limited to only the hours you are attending class. Below are some tips for students who have limited or no time on campus to build in-person relationships with adults at their college or university.

If you live at home and commute to on-campus classes…

  • If possible, try to schedule your week so that you have a few days on campus all day long.
  • Most professors allow for meetings by appointment outside of their regular office hours. If you are unable to attend a professor’s regular office hours, contact them after class or via email to ask about another appointment time as regularly as possible.
  • Find at least one extracurricular club or activity that fits your on-campus schedule. If possible, try to find at least one extracurricular activity that allows you to interact regularly with a faculty member, such as helping in a faculty research or participating in a club that has a faculty advisor.
  • Let your professors know that you are a commuter student and that you want to be able to stay connected. They may be more likely to be flexible if they understand the constraints on your time, and may even have additional suggestions for you—like ways to get involved with their research remotely or virtual office hour options.
  • Many colleges have a specific association or group for commuter students. Check out their website or office for more information about things like events during commuter-friendly hours, campus lockers for storing your belongings, recommended study spots, or social gatherings specifically for commuter students.

If you’re an online learner…

  • Use your professors’ offers virtual office hours or meetings as much as you would in person. Ask questions, express interest in their work, and stay connected with professors virtually. It is possible to find a potential mentor without ever meeting a professor in person!
  • Use your college’s website to reach out to any other staff on campus who may be able to support you. Staff in all offices (e.g., Counseling and Psychological Services, Financial Aid, Career Services) are typically able to schedule a phone or videoconference call to meet with you, or to refer you to someone in your community that can meet with you in person. If you aren’t getting responses over email, try a phone call during business hours to the relevant office.
  • Many colleges have resources specific to students who ar
  • e taking classes online. Check out their website for any additional resources, such as special platforms that may be available to you for connecting with other online students and professors.