Mentor Relationships and Feared Selves: A Qualitative Study



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The current study explored the ways in which mentors helped Black college students to avoid feared selves grounded in negative stereotypes. A purposive sample of 21 undergraduates (11 male, 10 female) who had completed at least two years of coursework at a private college in an urban community, and who reported having a mentor from the college environment, participated in semi-structured interviews focused on their mentor relationships. In addition, four mentors named by the students were interviewed with regard to their mentoring of Black college students. Primary themes, as generated from grounded theory, were: a) emotional support; b) academic-related strategies; c) assisting with decisions for the future; d) discussions about the feared self; and e) modeling. Mentor interviews clarified a prioritization of positive strategies, with less explicit discussion of feared selves or stereotypes. Implications for future research and practice involving college students and mentors are discussed.



possible selves, feared selves, negative stereotypes, mentor relationships, Black students