Building and Maintaining the Advising Relationship
It takes effort and initiative on your part to get to know your advisor. Students often complain that they only see their advisors when forms have to be signed. This is just as often the student's fault as the advisor's, and you don't have to let the relationship stop there. Few advisors have time to get to know all of their advisees during registration. So, make an appointment after the term begins to talk to your advisor.
Your advisor is available to offer you guidance and support for your first year, not only for academic advice, but also for other issues that may affect your academic performance. Help your advisor to understand you and what you want and need for your education. Don't expect your advisor to be like your high school guidance counselor. Your freshman advisor is not the person to help you plan out your entire four years. However, s/he will know where to send you for further information.
It's important to make a relationship with your advisor. Sometimes students feel shy about asking questions of their advisors, but your advisor is also a person. Find out something about her/him. Take a look around your advisor's office. Is there something interesting in the décor to comment on, maybe pictures of boats, or cats? Comment on these: "Oh, I see you like cats! Me, too: I have a pet at home." Find out how long your advisor has been at MIT. Is s/he an alum? What is his/her job? Where did s/he grow up?
If your advisor invites you and your fellow advisees for dinner or an event, make time to participate. These social events are a fun way for you and your advisor to get to know each other.
Maintaining Communication with Your Advisor
If you are in a seminar, you will meet your advisor on a weekly basis during the Fall semester as part of your class schedule. There may be informal and general discussions about advising during the seminar meeting, but you will also have individual meetings with your advisor to discuss more specific issues.
If you are in traditional advising, most of your advising meetings will be individual ones, but your advisor and associate will probably organize a few group meetings or special outings as well.
The advising relationship is a two-way street. While your advisor will be readily available to you, you cannot expect him or her to micromanage you. You, as much as your advisor, are responsible for maintaining the advising relationship. Maintain regular contact with your advisor and associate advisor(s) through emails or personal appointments.
Asking Your Advisor for Help: It's OK
Sometimes students don't let their advisors know when problems arise because it's not strictly an "academic" problem. Nevertheless, there are situations that can affect concentration and focus. These issues often impact your ability to perform well academically, so be sure to let your advisor know right away if you become sick, have roommate problems or financial concerns, are worried about your family or friends, or are homesick.
Your advisor can help you find resources before your situation affects your progress in your classes.