I rarely post on Chief, but as I was in your shoes just a few years ago, I feel qualified to give you some advice.
I was one of the top students on my team, and my life pretty much only consisted of FRC for 6 months of the year. I networked, I CADded, I CDed, I worked with suppliers, I even did work for other teams when I didn’t have enough to do on my own (shoutout to Travis on 971). I couldn’t imagine not having FRC in my life.
When I asked them about mentoring in college, my friends that were mentors or alums all advised me to take a year off of FRC, at least my freshman year. And I didn’t really listen to any of them. I had the team I would join all picked out, I even planned out ways to get from my college to their meetings and back.
And then college happened. For those of you who don’t know yet, college is amazing. It’s when your classes suddenly become not boring. It’s when you get to live on your own, and you don’t have to go to bed by midnight if you don’t want to. It’s where you figure out who you are when your life isn’t framed in terms of your parents, or your high school friends. It’s a place to explore, and be challenged, and be an adult in ways that you really couldn’t in high school.
Pretty soon, my desire to mentor just went away. As stupid as it is to say (and as much as it may fall on deaf ears in this forum), there’s more to life than FRC. Staying up late talking to french majors and wandering around the roofs of campus will teach you a lot more about yourself, and have made me a lot happier, than doing FRC for a 5th time. FRC, especially on Chief, can be pretty culty, and once you’re forced to step away from that when you go to college, you’ll gain a lot of perspective and maturity.
The stuff I learned in FRC, like how to use a lathe, or troubleshoot a system, or make a professional network, or work extremely hard, are things that continue to put me ahead in college, and STEM is still hugely important to me (I’m studying physics, and just used my CAD skills to design part of an experiment that will help us discover and understand dark matter). But I don’t mentor, and for the moment, I’m glad of that. I get to do research, I get to play in bands, I get to have an amazing group of friends who aren’t all engineers, and I get to try awesome new stuff all the time. That wouldn’t be an option if I was mentoring.
Maybe this will fall on deaf ears, and if it does, I don’t really blame you for not listening. I didn’t listen either. But don’t mentor when you’re in college, at least your first year. FRC will always be there. But you’ll only have one shot at figuring out what you’re actually like when you take away all the old, external stuff in your life, and start having to make choices about what’s actually important to you. As happy as you are to be a student in FRC, being a mentor isn’t the same (although it’s still awesome), and it can wait. College, and taking one of the last steps on your path to maturity, won’t.
Anyway, good luck. You’ve got a wonderful four years ahead of you.