Some frequently asked questions
What's in it for me?
- What are the eligibility criteria for the scholarship?
There are just two. An eagerness to learn and evidence of financial need or hardship. By the former we understand a commitment to attend the full course of mentoring and to come to each session appropriately prepared in terms of materials and attitude. For the latter we require evidence of some type of government support e.g. ABSTUDY, Youth Allowance, or a Health Care Card.
- What is expected of me as a parent?
The success of our model hinges on the commitment of the student. We are NOT a tutoring service. In particular this means that although we understand that parents/guardians play an important role, first and foremost the engagement should be student inititiated and maintained.
- Who is the mentor? Can I meet them?
Our mentors are hand picked. We meet every mentor in person. It may be possible for parents to meet with them although to date it this has only happened on a few occasions. Our preference is for the student/mentor experience to do the "talking" and not to put the volunteers in a position where they feel as if they're being "vetted" by parents. Our responsibility and commitment is to ensure that volunteers are appropriate at the outset and be available to counsel, as appropriate, as the engagement develops.
- What are the mentors qualifications?
All of our mentors are hand-picked. They are all studying toward, or have already completed, a mathematical degree (e.g. Maths, Physics, Engineering).
- What will my child learn?
The mentoring sessions are all about the scholar and mentor doing maths together. The starting point may be anything from the most recent homework to past VCE exams. The point is to start doing what might be called "close" work in which the enthusiastic expert (mentor) sees precisely how the student (scholar) is tackling different mathematical problems and can quickly work to fill knowledge gaps, refine technique and broaden and deepen understanding.
- What is the vetting process for mentors?
We meet all of our hand-picked mentors in person and all have a valid Working With Children Check.
- How do you decide on an appropriate mentor?
There are of course availability constraints. But these aside we attempt to match according to your mathematical ambitions. Gender is also a factor - when possible we seek to match genders.
- What will I get out of it?
Like most things in life - as much as you put in! You cannot learn maths without working problems, practicing in other words, and anybody who tells you something different is being dishonest.
How do I apply for a scholarship?
A nomination pack needs to be downloaded. It contains two forms, one of which must be completed by you and a parent/guardian, the other by a school teacher. If in any doubt just contact us and we'll talk you through the process.
How do I volunteer as a mentor?
Initially, contact us, we'll then get in touch and arrange to meet you.
How do you match me up with a student?
Scheduling constraints allowing, we try to match mentors with students according to mathematical/career interests. If you are on a career pathway which aligns particularly well with a certain scholar, we'll do our best to match you. Gender also plays a part - when possible we try to match genders.
What qualifications/credentials do I need?
You need to be studying towards, or have completed, a mathematical degree (e.g. maths, physics, engineering etc.). Most importantly you should feel able to teach high school maths (one-on-one, very different from a class of 25!) at least to the level of year 12 Methods.
How many hours a week and for how long do I need to commit?
2 hours a week for about the length of a school term. This is somewhat flexible, but in total you should be available for at least 18 hours of mentoring. This may seem like a substantial commitment. It is. In return you will have the opportunity to make a real and tangible difference to the future of the young person you work with.
How far will I have to travel?
We will do our best find an appropriate space, in an accessible location, at a convenient time. The more flexible you are, the easier it will be for us to find you a student.
What support processes are in place for mentors?
Our team has a wealth of experience, stretching far beyond maths education. You will be looked after.
What if I want to change my mind?
If you are having second thoughts, don't hesitate to get in touch. We understand very well the commitment involved, but are here to support you at every turn.
What's in it for me?
This is difficult to quantify. Superficially you will of course be able to cite your experience with The Institute on job applications. Indeed, by the nature of how we operate, you will have become well known to us as a team and so we'll be able to provide meaningful personal references. Beyond that though, you will have had an opportunity to "give something back". Perhaps you are about to embark on a career, perhaps you're already well established, maybe you've retired, whichever it is you'll have extended a helping hand to someone for whom such opportunities are rare.