I don’t really have ANY experience with what being on a college team is like, so I can’t offer that. But I can give you an unusual comparison because, frankly, I think my team is an unusual circumstance. We are definitely an adult run team, with our fair share of adult mentors (including Wayne C. from Team 25). However, team 1089 also has two hard-working college mentors, Erik Cokeley (E-Rock) and myself.
Having an adult advisor is beneficial because the students on the team tend to have more respect for an authority like their teacher. Why? Because teachers have more sway on kids day-to-day lives than your average college student. Teachers are also used to having kids that are unruly, distracted, or just having a hard time in class. It makes them great public speakers and makes holding meetings about 10,000 times easier.
Sure, being a college mentor is great, and I definitely try to teach kids from my own experiences. Talking about college things where they apply. Yeah, college kids learn a lot about responsibility, management and heirarchy running their own team, but they’re just that…kids (myself included). It’s really tough to have control of a room of kids when you’re a kid yourself. It’s even harder to know what to do in tough situations because you’re “a legal adult” but don’t have enough knowledge to solve tough problems. Sure, you can be their friend, but can you help them as much as any other adult?
The thing is, even just being a MENTOR allows you to have friendships with the kids. Yeah, I’m respected and looked up to, but they also know that I like to have fun. Actually, I joke that one of my team members (Carli Roberts -CRoberts1089) spends more time in my car than I do. Our team goes out to eat with each other, we spend countless hours invading each others’ houses, and most of us get along. So yes, I can see that being a major plus to having a college student-run team, but why can’t regular teams do that?
My advisor goes out to eat with us a lot. In fact, he cracks more jokes in our meetings than the kids do. He’ll be the first one to scream out “pants!” in the middle of a serious topic or make some goofy gesture. We have a lot of fun, but we also recognize that he IS an adult.
Having an adult is always a good resource, but having a college student makes things a lot more relaxed. I don’t think you necessarily need to have a college team, but you need to have a mixture of both.