Honors College

Library Resources for Honors Students at the University of Arkansas

10 Qualities of a Great Mentor

In the best case, a mentor should be well known and respected in the desired field.

A great mentor:

  1. Challenges you.
  2. Is experienced.
  3. Is where you want to be.
  4. Supports you.
  5. Is a great listener.
  6. Is invested in your success.
  7. Guides you toward the answer.
  8. Provides constructive feedback.
  9. Respects you.
  10. Is available.

*Note that a great mentor does not have to meet all of the criteria above.

credit: https://foundr.com/articles/leadership/


Finding a Mentor

Finding a mentor is an important step in the process and cannot be overlooked. A strong mentor-student relationship can make a huge impact on the thesis experience. There are a range of factors to consider and there is no single way to approach it, so find out what works best.

credit: https://cen.acs.org/careers/career-tips/Finding-mentor/96/i14

Selecting a Mentor

Finding about what you want to research and write about will help determine which department of faculty. Each college at the University of Arkansas has its own faculty directory. In the faculty member's profile are main headings that help establish a background. Those headings could be education/degrees, publications, research activity, teaching interests, honors and awards.

What is the faculty members area of expertise?

How long has the faculty member been research and practicing in their area of research?

  • The longer the faculty the member has conducted research, the longer their knowledge and expertise.

How many graduate and doctoral students has the faculty member collaborated with?

  • Seeing graduate and doctoral students succeed and graduates indicates that the faculty member has been involved with their research.

What is the faculty member's previous mentoring experience?

  • Look at previous dissertations and theses including honor theses.

The first meeting is important as it lets each party get to know each other and more on their personalities along with attaching a face to a name.Setting up the meeting is usually initiated by the mentee. Decide on a location to suits both parties.This can be public place such as a coffee shop, library, or other public area on campus. The point is to make sure that you both feel comfortable and that this meeting is in an informal setting. A good mentor will consider meeting locations and be flexible about time. Come prepared to ask questions but also some conversation starters.

Example conversation starter topics:

Ask about their current semester.

Ask about the weather or seasons.

Mention important events happening in the area.

First meeting questions that help move the conversation: 

What professional organizations could be useful and/or do you belong to?

What are some methods or strategies that helped you develop your career or where you're at today?

What is a typical day look like?

What projects do you work on with colleagues in your department? college? campus?

What goals do you currently have set?

Possible questions asked by your mentor:

How much time can you commit to and frequency of the meetings?

What are your research interests, goals, and future outlook?

How do you respond to feedback and criticism?

Can you work independently?

What is the best way to contact you and vice versa?



A further meeting can be arranged where a plan or set of goals can be discussed and aligned with tasks. Make sure the tasks are completed on time with the results made available to the potential mentor. The mentor could then provide feedback and analysis as well as advice and guidance on future actions.

During the first meeting, did the mentor's body language reveal any hints? Did you pay fully attention to them speaking and did it make sense? Were you able to have an actual conversation? All of those things will help in the final decision.

In the decision phase, develop a 'gut feeling' about your potential choices for a mentor. If you are unsure, schedule another meeting with your potential mentor(s). A great mentor will always look out for your best interests and will understand entirely if not selected. Also, consider your decision if the potential mentor has a full schedule and prior commitments.


The mentor does not owe you anything. What you decide to do is on your time to work towards your study, project, and career.