Frequently Asked Questions

 

This section addresses questions and comments that have come out of test marketing. Please scroll down for detailed responses.

Table of Contents

 

1. What types of jobs are applicable to The Mentor Model?

2. Who are the actual “mentors” in this program?

3. What type of Academic Training will the Student receive while using The Mentor Model?

4. What is the Core Principle of The Mentor Model?

5. What is the Key Difference between The Mentor Model and The University Model?

6. Do you agree with any part of The University Model?

7. What specific “Safeguards” are designed into The Mentor Model?

8. What are your fees?

9. Can students sign up today?

10. What if I start with The Mentor Model then decide to pursue another path?

Bonus:  Watch out for “debt-dealers” and the “scholarship” game 

11. Will I miss out on the “college experience”?

12. Is some college education required before joining The Mentor Model?

13. Will the lack of any professional mentoring hold me back?

14. Who will hire me without a college degree?

15. What about health “benefits”?

16. What about the “proven value” of a college degree?

17. What about mentoring of existing employees?

18. Do you have any suggestions for companies considering The Mentor Model?

19. Any words of encouragement for mid-level and senior professionals (i.e., potential mentors)?

20. Any words of encouragement for students?

Questions and Responses

1. What types of jobs are applicable to The Mentor Model?

The Mentor Model is applicable to jobs in IT, computer science, graphic design, finance, sales, business management, administration, Human Resources, banking, construction, architecture, some engineers, and many other careers. Basically, any job that does not have a state license requirement of a college degree, such as doctors and lawyers.

2. Who are the actual “mentors” in this program?

The mentors are the company’s mid-level and senior staff (with proper incentives attached) who choose to participate in the program. If needed, I can provide coaching to help “new mentors” get up to speed on effective training skills.

The Mentor Model suggests 2 to 4 hours per week of actual face time with a senior co-worker; the presentation explains the economics. That should minimize burdens on senior staff while giving useful and proactive direction to junior staff. There could also be some field trips, marketing outings and/or facility tours as appropriate for your job. From my work experience, I was lucky to get 1 hour per month of face time with a senior co-worker for anything that remotely qualified as mentoring. And that was usually reactive Q&A after repeated requests and spinning my wheels.

 

Note:  This is NOT an informal “internship” where students are often left doing a small list of mundane tasks with little or no supervision. If you’re thinking of participating in a summer internship, you may want to ask your prospective employer: Who will be my boss and how many hours per week of mentoring will I receive?  If you get a blank stare or weak excuses… that should tell you something.

3. What type of Academic Training will the Student receive while using The Mentor Model?

Once a student begins with The Mentor Model (with a roughly 50/50 split of academics and work), the academic portion is designed to be approximately 1,000 hours per year of guided self-study based on curriculum agreed upon with the company. There could also be some field trips, marketing outings and/or facility tours as appropriate for your job.

 

To assist with the guided self-study, which the student will be paying for, there are numerous low-cost or free courses available online for thousands of subjects, many with expert instructors available for individual questions and answers. These market-friendly online resources include Khan Academy, Udemy and Coursera. One advantage to online learning is the self-paced nature, where students can pause and rewind as needed to fully grasp a difficult concept.

Since students are more in control of their academic study once entering The Mentor Model, some classroom college courses are certainly an option. That’s up to you and your employer.

For existing employees and students planning on going back to college after a period of mentoring, the academic portion could be waived entirely to focus on working.

4. What is the Core Principle of The Mentor Model?

“Training has a Value.”

More specifically—ALL training has a value, not just books and lectures that can be easily mass-produced and are often not personally challenging. Books and lectures are good for introductory purposes. Beyond that, direct application (“learn and apply”) under the guidance of an experienced professional can have a far greater impact.

5. What is the Key Difference between The Mentor Model and The University Model?

The Mentor Model is consumer-driven, which generally leads to the best quality and cost. The University Model is heavily influenced by outside subsidies and pressures (both corporate and political), which helps explain the various “unintended” consequences (high cost, student debt, passion for “Ph.D.” titles, reliance on generic teaching methods, etc.). Other differences between The Mentor Model and The University Model are summarized in the one-page Education Options comparison on this website.

6. Do you agree with any part of The University Model?

Yes, the value of Liberal Arts. However, I would suggest that those topics can be learned much better and faster from an independent scholar than in a classroom as a somewhat captive audience member. Many good, free, condensed articles on these topics can be found on the internet if you make an effort to look around. And some of those articles (and a few good books) come from college professors. Having an experienced teacher to challenge you to grow is even better, if you can find one.

7. What specific “Safeguards” are designed into The Mentor Model?

The Mentor Model is designed to have numerous positive features that protect and balance the interests of students, mentors and companies. These are further discussed in the Safeguards section of this website. For a high-level summary, the safeguards are:

 

  • Working Agreements during the 1-2 Year “Transition Period” – a series of 3 to 6 month written agreements between the student (junior staff), mentor and employer on key expectations.

 

  • Written Salary Target – and commencement date for when the student will “graduate” to a full-time salary.

  • Mentor Incentives – this one may sound simple (and it is), but it’s often overlooked.

  • Program Oversight – the 3rd-party oversight feature is intended to keep things running smoothly and suggest adjustments as needed (assigned mentor, split of training/working time, etc.) to maximize benefits to everyone.

 

I almost forgot to mention the best safeguards of all—consumer feedback and market competition. Those aren’t perfect, but with the added features above, I think this package is attractive compared to the existing options.

8. What are your fees?

There are upfront fees for assisting with recruiting students and initial program setup, and a long-term fee, all of which are very reasonable. My fees depend on level of effort and the number of students to recruit and match with mentors at your company (there is some economy of scale).

In addition to the small upfront fees, the business model is designed for a long-term fee of $1-2 per hour that the Jr. staff works and ends when the 1-2 year Transition Period is done. That long-term fee pays for one of the important safeguards and also establishes an incentive for me to see things through for your long-term success.

9. Can students sign up today?

Not quite, but that could change any day. The Mentor Model is currently test marketing and building the network in the Dallas area. Coverage to expanded areas will be evaluated on a case-by-case nature.

 

Students interested in taking the next step can help expedite in a variety of ways that we can discuss. If you know of specific companies you want to work at, that can help.

 

Employers interested in taking the next step can schedule a free 30-minute Presentation to see if The Mentor Model is a good fit for your company. The free Presentation is a limited offer and may involve travel expenses if outside of the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

 

10. What if I start with The Mentor Model then decide to pursue another path?

In the case that a student begins participating in The Mentor Model then decides the selected company/career is not a good fit, or chooses to return to college full-time, we recommend fulfilling any agreed-upon commitment or signing bonus with the employer. Similar to quitting college mid-semester, you can’t reneg on a work/training agreement and expect to have no financial consequences. And a series of short-term (suggested 3 to 6 month) work commitments should help protect interests and limit liabilities of all parties, compared to a much longer obligation with “the other guys” (see the bonus item below for more on that).

 

In the event of you deciding to change course after your first company/career choice, you likely will have gained some valuable experience and will have earned some money while participating in The Mentor Model. And you might have saved yourself from committing to a 4-year college degree in a field that wasn’t what you were expecting.

After that, you can pursue a more suitable company/career or go back to The University Model, although you may need to “sit out” the remainder of the semester depending on your timing. Due to the financial practices of modern colleges, you’ll need to be aware of student loan and scholarship availability and debt repayment schedules if you intend to leave or re-enter The University Model. So it’s always good to do your research and plan ahead.

Bonus:  Watch out for “debt-dealers” and the “scholarship” game

A word of caution from someone who spent over 20 years paying off unnecessary debt:  Instead of working for years to pay down impulsive or conformist spending habits, you’re usually better off making choices that avoid debt liability in the first place. The debt business is all about confining people for the longest duration to maximize easy profits. The college “degree” is primarily a tool that restricts people to one narrow profession while generating enormous profits and power for its gatekeepers. In both cases, these expensive products are sold as “liberating” but more often turn out to be limiting. So if someone waives a “scholarship” in your face to get a GREAT DEAL!!! …but only if you sign a bunch of fine print with long-term ramifications, maintain a healthy level of skepticism.

The pro-college website College Data advises: “Scholarships won’t give you money for nothing. …Before you sign on the dotted line, check the terms of acceptance carefully to see just what you are promising to do—and then decide if you can live with it.” Some of the “strings attached” include restrictions on your field of study, specific job commitments post-graduation, and even requirements to live in a (possibly low opportunity, high-tax) home state—or else be forced to pay back what you thought was a “gift.”

 

Particularly watch out for college pricing games where they set a ridiculously high “base price” (say, $50,000 per year), but offer a “sweetheart” deal of “only $35,000” if you sign their contract and ostensibly make a 4-year commitment. Since paying off your college loans typically takes an additional 10 years after graduation, the initial decision to accept the “financial aid” of a college scholarship is often a 14 year obligation or even longer. That’s a great deal for bankers and college administrators. But for students looking for financial independence… maybe not.

11. Will I miss out on the “college experience”?

Yes, to some degree, and that’s probably a good thing. Refer to the section on The “College Experience” for further details.

 

Since The Mentor Model is designed to typically start after 1-2 years of college, you won’t be “missing out” on that experience entirely. Working and getting paid should actually give you MORE opportunities to effectively network and socialize during your free time than you would find in a demanding (and unpaid) college setting.

 

12. Is some college education required before joining The Mentor Model?

Not exactly. Well-adapted and assertive high school grads are also eligible for The Mentor Model, but these individuals are somewhat rare. As mentioned in the one-page brochure and elsewhere, you will still be participating in college-level guided online study during the program.

 

13. Will the lack of any professional mentoring hold me back?

Quite possibly, based on my experience and watching other colleagues. When I graduated in 1991 with a B.S. in Civil Engineering, there were no professional mentoring programs that I was aware of (nor was I looking for one). I quickly jumped into a career in environmental consulting and remained in that field until December 2017.

 

I can easily say that the lack of professional mentoring held me back about 15 years, until I gradually drifted into Project Management around 2006. A good part of that time was spent slowly and sometimes painfully “unlearning” some bad habits I had developed from the passive and non-challenging approach I had experienced during my 17 years (K–college) in a classroom schooling atmosphere.

 

During the last 10 years of my career, I stumbled into two brief mentoring experiences which had lasting positive impacts on my professional career and beyond. I can only imagine the benefits I could have gained if I had been involved in any type of formal mentoring program much earlier in my career.

 

14. Who will hire me without a college degree?

With The Mentor Model, you’re already hired from day one of the program. After that, it’s up to you to decide if the company is a “good fit” and the career is what you were looking for.

 

As discussed further in the Safeguards section, one of the features of The Mentor Model is to have an up-front Written Salary Target and commencement date for when the student will “graduate” to a full-time salary.

 

15. What about health “benefits”?

Let me put on my dual “teacher and owner” hat for this one. Since this is a trillion-dollar question for society—and a big issue for each student and company—I think it deserves more than a one-size-fits-all approach. Among other things, this is a classic example of “words have no meaning,” a phrase made popular recently by an astute judge.

 

This question is skewed in large part due to political interference in healthcare for decades and the related corporate spin. I prefer to avoid the loaded term “benefits” in any healthcare conversation, since it is an opinion (“my product is good for you!”) masquerading as a fact, which leads to confusion. Before jumping into any high-cost group health insurance pool of random strangers, it’s helpful to consider the complexity and trappings of using other people’s money vs. the often-simpler advantages of managed personal savings and continual attention to one’s health.

 

Nevertheless, since healthcare is a personal matter and people’s preferences vary for many reasons, I’ll note some options I have researched in connection with setting up this business model:

  1. Self-insure with Cash Only Doctors like the one described in that article. If you’re near Oklahoma City, a pioneer in upfront pricing for major medical procedures is the Surgery Center of Oklahoma. If you’re far away, their price list is still informative.

  2. Self-insure with supplemental urgent care options like RediCare VIP (in Dallas) or other local equivalents.

  3. Use one of the cost-sharing insurance programs like Samaritan or Medi-Share (both are very affordable).

  4. Obtain partial or full medical insurance via your employer, knowing that your wages and health may be negatively impacted.

 

16. What about the “proven value” of a college degree?

Here is the last of my “teacher moments” of the FAQ section. Again, it’s a loaded question, so let’s unpack some baggage. When looking at any official study of “college value,” we should remember that such studies are prepared by the college industry to convince people into buying their product. That’s fine, but it’s not “science.” A pseudo-scientific equivalent would be like me paying for a “study” of Bill Gates and Steve Jobs to prove that skipping college makes you a billionaire.

 

In both cases, the studies rely on “selection bias,” a concept I first learned about from James Altucher (since I took Statistics 301 in college and missed this important lesson). Mr. Altucher makes the good point that comparing a college graduate to a typical person who quits all schooling after high school fails to account for “ambition, drive, intelligence” … which makes all those “college value” studies pretty useless.

 

It’s fair to say that modern American society puts a certain “political value” in college diplomas and that some employers currently go along with that perception. But politics is not a firm foundation and dissatisfaction over the college mandate is growing. As others have noted, the American economy is moving towards “competency over credentials.” It’s up to students and employers to decide which educational model puts you in the best position for success in today’s marketplace.

 

17. What about mentoring of existing employees?

For existing employees (with or without a college degree) who decide they want formal mentoring to improve their career outlook, it’s never too late. (My two brief mentoring experiences were hugely beneficial and came after working for about 15 years.)

 

A key point to keep in mind is: Training has a value, so someone needs to pay for it.

 

If you agree with that, the next question is:  Who is going to pay for it? The answer to that important question is unique for any given situation, but it can involve a combination of: 1) company pays its in-house mentors, 2) employee pays via working longer hours or getting a temporarily reduced salary, 3) mentor initially pays by working longer hours, with attached financial incentives, and/or 4) client pays via higher billing rates based on a greater level of service.

 

Let’s remember, your high schools and colleges paid you NOTHING for the often-demanding homework assignments you completed daily. So if you have to invest some of your time to learn useful career skills, that’s really nothing new.

 

As I’ve seen for 25 years, if a company tries the approach where No One pays for mentoring (e.g., senior staff are told “just do it… it’s part of your job”) then quality tanks and the entire mentoring system collapses before long. Companies have already figured out that positive incentives (i.e., commission and bonuses) boost short-term sales. So it’s no leap of logic to understand that positive incentives can increase productivity via mentoring.

 

Thankfully, incentive-based mentoring is very cost-effective. The Mentor Model can discuss and help set up such a program for you.

18. Do you have any suggestions for companies considering The Mentor Model?

With much respect for your hard work and dedication in this challenging climate, I will note one “opportunity for improvement” I frequently see in the business world:  owners delegating too much decision-making authority to Human Resources (HR) and other administrative departments.

 

If owners at your company authorized the HR department to write policies stating “you must have a 4-year college degree” for various staff positions, that’s issue #1. Non-owners in any administrative role usually do not have the broad long-term outlook or the positive “return on investment” motivation of an owner; that’s issue #2. Being aware of these two points is important for finding a better solution, since your HR department needs to be part of that process.

 

The Mentor Model can help with setting up an incentives-based mentoring program with safeguards that balance the interests of students (or existing employees), mentors and companies to maximize success for everyone.

 

19. Any words of encouragement for mid-level and senior professionals (i.e., potential mentors)?

Mentoring a junior staff will help you really “nail down” and organize your technical experience while sharpening your management skills. That can (if you desire) free up your time to move onto more advanced tasks that require senior judgement and strategy. And with The Mentor Model, financial incentives are attached to compensate your valuable investment.

 

If you would like further information on possibly establishing a Mentor Model program at your company, contact The Mentor Model.

 

20. Any words of encouragement for students?

Regardless of what educational model you select, just know that you now have more options than were available to recent generations. If you own a TV or smart phone, you’ve heard the viewpoints and advertising of the college industry. If you poke around this website, you can get (I believe) better and more concise information on both The University Model and The Mentor Model. Once you’ve done your research, it’s up to you to make the call and take the next step.

 

For further information please contact:  Steve@mentor-model.com

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