Graduate students at Kent State report lack of help from their faculty mentors

Megan Wilkinson

Faculty mentors and advisers at the graduate level are slightly more involved in a student’s life and academics than students in undergraduate fields, said Mary Stephens, dean of graduate studies.

“A mentor is somebody who takes a special interest in you and advises you both academically and professionally in choice of career paths,” Stephens said. “They introduce their students to the social norms of the profession and help them network with colleagues.”

Yet Kent State graduate students from last spring reported they left Kent State with excessive debt and a lack of “sufficient help” from their faculty mentors.

“I have had to do a lot of independent legwork in order to get the ball rolling in my program,” said Don Majercak, a graduate student studying to be an intervention specialist. “Their office hours aren’t entirely flexible with my schedule and I work full time, so I don’t really have a lot of extra time to trek it out to Kent from my hometown to meet with my advisers.”

Kent State’s College of Graduate Studies created a survey for doctoral and master’s program graduates last spring. The majority of the survey’s respondents reported they had little help from their mentors; more than half of these individuals also said they didn’t have a mentor while studying in the College of Graduate Studies at Kent State.

Why Should I Care?

The majority of students in graduate programs at Kent State report they are not getting enough assistance from their mentors to move forward in their fields.


One graduate student in Clinical Mental Health Counseling, who wishes to remain anonymous, said she wasn’t surprised by the findings of the survey. She said she doesn’t have a mentor and that her adviser doesn’t give her good advice.

“I went in to meet with (my adviser) and she acted like a scrooge and like I was an inconvenience for being there asking her questions,” she said. “I feel like I am just a number at Kent State, in some ways, because I don’t get the one-on-one mentoring.”

This student said she thinks Kent State’s graduate studies still needs better advising, career planning and organization for class scheduling.

Advisers at the graduate level still work with a large number of students. Michael Mikusa, associate professor of teaching, leadership and curricular studies, serves as a faculty adviser at the graduate level and he said he helps close to 75 students in his program.

“I see most of these students regularly since I’m also their professor, but I’m sometimes assigned to graduate students (whom) I don’t even know,” Mikusa said.

Stephens said one of her guesses as to why some students might have reported not having a mentor is because mentors aren’t as important to the educational experience in some majors because students might only need one year of education.

“We’re still figuring out how to address these shortcomings,” Stephens said. “However, just having awareness on these two issues alone helps us to know where students aren’t necessarily happy.”

Contact Megan Wilkinson at [email protected].