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

Advising Fundamentals: Developmental Advising

Developmental advising stresses that advising should go beyond simply giving information or signing a form. When an advisee approaches you with a problem, it is important that you avoid prescribing solutions without addressing more comprehensive issues.

To advise freshmen successfully, you need to encourage developmental growth by asking the right questions and listening to their responses. Though you might know the answers to the challenges they are experiencing or know first-hand the solution to their problems, telling students what to do will discourage self-advocacy and decision-making. Instead, a developmental approach to advising is one that will help first-year students develop the life skills that they need to succeed.

How do you accomplish this?

By asking open-ended questions, you are helping your advisee(s) think about his/her situation and find appropriate strategies for improvement. For example, if you learn that one of your advisees is struggling in a class and has received a Fifth Week Flag, you might have a conversation with him or her about the situation and discuss how their performance can be improved. Here are some sample questions you might ask:

Some tips to remember:

See Communicating with Freshmen for more tips and information on how to talk to your advisees.

Additional resources include: