MIT: Massachusetts Institute of Technology
For Associate Advisors
The First Year at MIT

Advising Fundamentals: Working with Freshmen in your Advising Group

Your advising group is made up of 5-8 freshmen, a freshman advisor and you, the associate advisor. A UAAP staff member will also be appointed to your group and will be available to assist with general inquiries, difficult situations or signing forms when your advisor is not available.

Working with Your Advisor

You are are expected to be available to your advisor for the entire academic year, not just at registration. Though your advisor will be familiar with the GIRs, s/he will not be an expert. You can therefore provide the in-depth understanding of the GIRs and the student perspective that is important for freshmen.

You should be pro-active with your advisor by discussing your mutual expectations up front and figure out how you will contribute to your advising group throughout the year. Determine how you will communicate with each other (i.e. regular meetings or email), how you will organize social activities, and to what extent you will included in the on-going advising meetings.

It is critical to keep your advisor informed about any important communication or interactions that you have with your advisees.This way, you will be able to keep track of your freshmen and avoid miscommunication.

Working with Your Freshmen

You are expected to take the initiative and to stay in regular contact with your advisees throughout the academic year. It is recommended that you contact each of your advisees twice a month or every few weeks. Giving your advisees your schedule and your cell phone at the start of the semester speaks to your accessibility.

You will assist with class selection and registration both terms and participate in advising meetings whenever possible. Although you will not have access to their grades or confidential information, you can talk to your advisor on how you might share information. Remember to treat conversations with or regarding students with respect and confidentially.

It can be challenging to communicate with students that you do not live with or you do not see too often. That is why you should establish a rapport early on to open the lines of communication. Inviting them to meet for lunch or coffee one-on-one at the start of the semester will establish a foundation for the advising relationship. Telling them about yourself, background and experience, usually helps break the ice.

Your understanding of MIT resources will be invaluable to your advisees. Some associate advisors send their advisees regular emails with links to academic resources and reminders to not be afraid to ask for help. Others send information on time management and test taking.