Mentor Guidelines


Each student enrolled in a CollegeNow Online course is required to work with a mentor at his or her high school. Mentors support students in their transition to college level coursework in the online environment.

For most students, the primary adjustment to the online environment is time management; a student is required to log in to a course at least three times per week and complete all readings, assignments, and discussion posts by the specified deadlines – all without the structure of a traditional classroom. Students must commit to being self-directed and understand the initiative required to be successful in an online course. Tompkins Cortland’s “Is It Right for You?” page may be useful when counseling students on whether the online environment is a good match for their learning styles.

Before the first week of class

  • Familiarize yourself with the College’s Academic Standards and Grading Policies and go over them with the student.
  • Review the Implications of Beginning a College Transcript with the student. When a student enrolls in a college-level course, a college transcript is initiated. Low or failing grades can negatively impact the student’s academic future, including academic standing and future financial aid eligibility.
  • Make sure that the student completes Blackboard’s Student Orientation. Show the student how to navigate the online learning platform.
  • Inform the student of the required log-in policy: Students are expected to log in to class at least three times a week. Students who do not participate in class for two consecutive weeks are viewed as not attending the course and will be administratively withdrawn, which appears on the transcript as an AW. 
  • IMPORTANT: It is very important that students read the log-in instructions and log in to their online course(s) within two days of the course start date. After registering for an online course, a student will receive a letter from CollegeNow including the log-in information. Students who did not receive the letter should contact CollegeNow at 607.844.8222, extension 4311.
  • Review with the student the deadlines for dropping and withdrawing, which are posted on the College's Academic Calendar, and have the student print a copy of the deadlines to share with a parent or guardian.
  • If the student needs to drop or withdraw from the class, an Official Change of Schedule Form must be completed and submitted by the deadline.

During the first week of class

  • Verify that the student has logged into his or her myTC3 and Blackboard accounts and has accessed the course materials.
  • Make sure the student is comfortable navigating the online environment, especially if he or she has not yet logged in multiple times. Review Blackboard’s Student Orientation again if needed. Tompkins Cortland Tech Support can provide assistance as well.
  • Make sure the student has purchased any required textbooks.
  • Make sure the student has printed the course outline with due dates and has decided on regular times during the week to log in to the course.
  • Set up a schedule for weekly check-ins with the student throughout the semester.
  • Make sure the student feels he or she can succeed in the course. Students must drop or withdraw by the deadlines to avoid receiving a low grade. A drop leaves no record on the student's transcript. A withdrawal is recorded as a W, meaning the student began the course and withdrew. A W does not affect a student’s GPA. If the student withdraws after the regular withdrawal deadline, his grade will either be a WP (“withdraw pass”) or a WF (“withdraw fail”). A WF factors into the student's GPA as an F.

Throughout the semester

  • Be a resource for the student. Encourage the student to contact the instructor or the helpdesk when appropriate.
  • Follow the schedule you set with the student for regular check-ins. Alternatively, you could hold the student accountable for checking in with you.
  • Help the student calculate his or her grade.
  • Review deadlines of remaining assignments using the course outline’s schedule.
  • Pay particular attention to the important semester dates for course withdrawals. Check in with the student before each deadline to ensure the student is progressing and does not need to consider withdrawing from the course.

For Students Taking Summer Online Courses

Summer courses are offered in a condensed format, and the drop and withdraw deadlines arrive quickly. Due to the compressed summer schedule, students are expected to cover more work at a faster pace.

  • Emphasize to the student the condensed nature and rapid pace of the course.
  • Make sure the student factors in other summer commitments, including summer jobs or family vacations.
  • Have the student print the course outline and review the due dates.
  • Review the Academic Calendar for summer courses, and the drop and withdrawal deadlines. Note that summer deadlines arrive much sooner than those for regular semester courses.