What role does a WGU mentor do at our online university?
WGU Mentors serve a critical advising and support role for their assigned students’ success. Mentors are not teachers and do not teach any part of the courses. They are the students’ primary source of information on their program and the policies and procedures of the online university. Mentors counsel students in understanding expectations and overcoming obstacles to ensure success.
Mentors are experts in their students’ academic program and are able to support and answer questions or get all answers students may have about their program. Mentors advise students on time management skills, schedule benchmarks for the student to successfully master program concepts, knowledge and skills. They help the student identify strengths and weaknesses and guide them to the resources they may need. They guide and lead their students to success and help them achieve getting an online degree.
We had the pleasure of interviewing one of our IT mentors, Ann Jacobsen. We learned what inspires her every day, as well was how being a mentor at WGU has positively affected her life.
WGU: First of all, what is your background? How and when did you decide to become a mentor at WGU?
Ann Jacobsen: I have a BS in Psychology with a minor in Family Human Development and Anthropology. Prior to coming to WGU, I worked in medical sales and service for 12 years. I found out about WGU from a friend of mine who was employed at WGU at the time. She knew I was looking to get out of medical sales and suggested I look into the university. I was very hesitant at first, but when I learned what WGU was all about, I couldn’t wait to get my application in to be a part of this. I started out at WGU as an Enrollment Counselor, but felt I wanted a longer relationship with the students that were coming on board. I found out about the Student Mentor position and applied as soon as I was eligible to switch jobs within the organization. I started with WGU in June of 2006 and became a Mentor in June of 2007.
An online university opens the door for individuals who want to go back to school, but cannot fit a traditional school into their schedule. This is ideal for individuals with families and/or a full time job. The online experience can help them to work their courses around their regularly busy schedule. They still have to sacrifice their time, but not their livelihood.
WGU: What is some memorable advice that you have received in your life with regards to your career and succeeding?
Ann Jacobsen: Find something you enjoy and find rewarding otherwise your job becomes a job. Treat people they way you would want to be treated and things should fall into place
WGU: Sounds like excellent advice! What inspires you on a day to day basis to the best mentor you can be?
Ann Jacobsen: Knowing that is some small way, I am helping someone obtain a goal they have set for themselves. I am making a difference.
WGU: You are making a difference, as everyday you help students work towards an online IT degree. So, how has mentoring at WGU.edu affected your life?
Ann Jacobsen: Being a Mentor has helped to make my life more rewarding and fulfilling. Knowing you are helping to make a difference makes a difference in you. It has been a very positive experience and one of the best jobs I have ever had.
WGU: Wow, it is wonderful that you enjoy your job so much. But, what is your favorite thing about being a mentor?
Ann Jacobsen: Getting to know my students and watching them succeed.
WGU: That’s great. Last but not least…Are there any online tools or research tips you can give to readers thinking about, or currently, enrolled in an online university?
Ann Jacobsen: I don’t have any specific tools or research tips to offer. There are too many wonderful things out there for them to use to help themselves be successful. But my advice is this….Make the sacrifice now and you WILL reap the rewards later. It is worth your time and effort to make this change in your life, but it does require you to temporarily sacrifice some of the things you currently enjoy.
We would like to thank Ann Jacobsen for sharing her insightful thoughts with us all.