All Articles Education Edtech How social media supports professor-student mentorship

How social media supports professor-student mentorship

3 min read


With the evolution of social media, professors and students are now able to forge a lifetime of mentorship and friendship if they do it right.

After all, having the ability to mentor students is one of the great honors of being a professor. And now with the emergence of social media, that bond does not have to end when the course is over.

Sure, students could always email or visit a professor after they graduate. I did with many of mine. But as time ticks by, it’s easy to lose that meaningful connection with someone who helped shape your life in so many ways.

Teaching a social media class, I naturally connect with many of my students on Linkedin, Twitter, and Google Plus. However, it’s not enough to just “connect” with former students on these platforms. That’s really no different than having their names sit dormant in your address book.

To create a continuous mentorship on social media, you must be engaging. For example, when I see an update on Linkedin that a former student received a new job or accomplished a milestone, I make sure to comment/share, or better yet, message them a personal congratulations. I also try to find out more about what they are doing in their professional life and goals, and as always, offer any help that I can.

On Twitter, I will @mention a student with an article that I thought they might enjoy or is relevant to the field they are working in. It’s taking little steps like this that cement a relationship and allow ex-students to know there is still someone rooting for them to succeed. I think we all need to know we have fans, especially when starting out in the professional “real-world.”

I am cognizant that no one has the time, energy or even the desire to constantly monitor every former student. But there is enough time, energy, and desire to not neglect the student who wants to take advantage of your continual guidance and is appreciative of your ongoing engagement.

Not convinced? Maybe this will win you over: It doesn’t take as much time as you may think.

Here’s a start. Make a Twitter list of former students who remain active with you on social media and check it every once in a while. Interact and show them virtually that same interest you had in them while they were in your class. Maybe even challenge them with a question like in the “good old days” of class.

Or filter your connections on Linkedin to include the school you teach at so you can message a student you have not talked with in some time. Linkedin is also a wonderful platform to see a student’s professional career grow. Best yet, it gives you the opportunity to publicly celebrate their achievements. I guarantee they will appreciate your effort and you will make their day.

Just think about if a former professor connected with you on social media today and told you how proud they were of your accomplishments. How would that make you feel?

Well, you can do the same for a student right now.

Adam Chiara is a communications associate, an award-winning multimedia journalist, and an adjunct professor who teaches a variety of media courses at several colleges. Tweet him at @AdamChiara and visit his site at