There are several ways to recognize good mentoring. Faculty who have received awards for outstanding mentoring are excellent models. Advanced graduate students and alumni are also excellent sources of insight into what helps them function optimally in graduate school.
A good mentor will do the following:
"The message my mentor sent was that I had value enough for her to spend time with me."
"The most important things my mentor did were spending time talking with me and taking an interest in things interesting to me."
"It has been extremely helpful to me to have a mentor who recognized that academic procedures and protocol — everything from how to select classes to how to assemble a panel for a conference — are not familiar territory for a lot of people."
"My mentor has been willing to answer the most basic questions without making me feel foolish for asking them."
"I wrote several drafts before he felt I had begun to make a cogent argument, and as painful as that was, I would not have written the dissertation that I did without receiving strong, if just, criticism, but in a compassionate way."
"Honest advice, given as gently as possible, is something all of us graduate students need."
"Mentorship is far more than a one-time conversation about your career plans or a visit to a professor's home. It is the mentor's continuous engagement in a student's professional growth and the ongoing support and encouragement of a student's academic endeavors."
"My professors encouraged me both to publish my work and to participate in conferences. Without their encouragement, I might not have made the effort to accomplish these things."
"My co-chair referred me to a faculty member doing related research at a time when my research was floundering and I really needed additional support. I could not have completed my dissertation were it not for this recommendation."
"My advisors really made a team of their graduate students, having regular meetings and informal parties and get-togethers, working on projects together, and forming interest groups. That comradeship was essential to my academic growth and my sense of having a community."
"My mentor allowed my tasks to grow along with me, offering appropriate opportunities and challenges at each stage of my education."
"I knew that I was not just an ordinary student when she invited me to co-teach with her. We worked together as colleagues, not as teacher and student."
"She treated me and her other students with respect — respect for our opinions, our independence, and our visions of what we wanted to get from graduate school."
"It sounds silly but the best thing my mentor did for me was to actually sit down and listen to what I had to say. When graduate students are allowed to feel that what they have to say is actually worthwhile, it makes interactions more rewarding."
"Having someone supportive when things go wrong is the difference, in my mind, between an adequate mentor and a great one."
"A few of my professors were always willing and eager to talk with me about my career interests, professional pursuits, and issues such as juggling career and family. This may not sound like much, but it truly makes a difference."