Mentors, Meaningful Work, and Diversity – New Research!

Mentors (and Meaningful Work) Really Do Matter

Most of us know what it’s like to do work that we’re deeply engaged in, enthusiastic about, and committed to. You wake up excited to get to work, and at the end of the day, you’re energized instead of drained. Good work affects your whole life, not just your work life, leaving you happier and more fulfilled, with a sensMentor Stats Graphice of purpose. One of the reasons we started The New School was so that we, and our students, could spend our days doing just this kind of work, side by side.

So we’re not exactly surprised by the results of recently released Gallup-Perdue Index, a research study of how college experience relates to graduates’ later lives. The study showed that the things that most closely relate to later engaging work and happy lives are precisely those educational elements that we are building The New School around: (1) teachers who acted as mentors to students, (2) internships where students could apply classroom learning, and (3) long-term, substantive projects.

And the effects were not insubstantial. In fact, for students who had a mentor teacher in college, “their odds of being engaged at work more than doubled, as did their odds of thriving in all aspects of their well-being.” Ditto for students who worked in internships and on long projects.

The Gallup-Perdue Index only looked at the relationship between college and later life. But we feel pretty confident about the positive effects of exposing students to great teachers and deep, meaningful project-based learning, and internships where students do work that really matters.

Why is Diversity Important Anyway?

At The New School, we often say that we’re not committed to diversity out of some abstract, noble vision about the way the world should be. Rather, we’re committed to diversity because we believe it’s good for our students to work closely with individuals who have different backgrounds, cultures, worldviews, and expectations than they do. We think it’s important for high school students especially to get outside of their comfort zones and engage the world in all its multifarious forms.

Now a new study points toward another potential up-side of diversity: it makes you smarter! Now that is a noble vision for our students that we can get behind.