Advising Right Now: Recognizing Signs of Stress
We all know that MIT is a stressful place, but there are things we can do as advisors to help our advisees better cope. Here are some things to be aware of as the term begins.
Identifying Stress Symptoms
MIT Medical has a printable brochure called When You're Worried about a Student, which includes a list of symptoms of stress. These include:
- student fails to respond to emails or phone calls
- is sleeping too much or too little
- has gained or lost weight
- is isolated
- has a change in appearance, e.g., unclean, dirty hair or clothes
- is not attending classes or recitations
- appears apathetic or depressed
Help Your Students Help Themselves
Early intervention will get positive results! TAs, faculty, and tutors are all available to help. If you have a student who appears depressed or overwhelmed, now is the time to refer him or her to help.
The student's TAs and/or instructors, subject review sessions, departmental tutoring, the Talented Scholars Resource Room or TSR^2, and the staff in Undergraduate Advising and Academic Programming office are all great resources for students seeking to improve their academic performance.
If you want to be in direct contact with your advisee's teachers or TAs, please see the list of Freshman Lecturers.
Time Management and Study Skills
Many freshmen run into academic problems because they lack experience in managing all aspects of their lives. This typically includes poor time management and organizational skills.
For information on improving performance, refer your advisees to the Center for Academic Excellence (ACADEX) site for tips, tools, advice and resources.
Personal Problems or Extenuating Circumstances
Sometimes students are unable to focus on schoolwork because of personal mental health issues like depression, illness, serious interpersonal problems (roommates, new or failing romances), or family crisis (death, divorce, illness).
- Strongly encourage any advisee struggling with personal problems or with extenuating circumstances to contact Student Support Services (S3), Room 5-104, 617-253-4861. S3 deans provide support and help for a multitude of problems from study-related anxiety through personal or financial issues; they can make referrals to other support services and advocate on behalf of the student as necessary.
- Mental Health and Counseling at MIT Medical offers a full range of individual services as well as support groups for students which try to help them adjust to life at MIT. You can reassure students that Mental Health records are completely separate from their academic records.