Advising Right Now: Helping Advisees Adjust to MIT
Your experience can help your advisees transition to their first year at MIT. Talk about your own adjustments when you arrived on campus and how you dealt with some of these common issues.
Getting Along with Roommates
This is particularly challenging for freshmen who might have never lived away from home before coming to MIT or might never have had to share a room with someone else. In these cases, communication is key if roommates are going to survive together. Some of the topics that new roommates should discuss include:
- Set up and organization of room
- Sleep schedules
- Cleanliness expectations
- Borrowing and lending
- Social expectations
- Study habits and schedules
- Acceptable noise levels
You probably have a sense of what some stress symptoms are and how to spot some of the obvious ones (i.e. skipping class, falling asleep in class, not responding to email, etc.). Other symptoms might be less obvious, so it important for both you and your advisor to look out for signs of stress and offer help.
- Reassure that all MIT students experience stress
- Encourage them to take time-out
- Exercise regularly
- Socialize with friends
- Avoid aiming for perfection
If an advisee is begins acting differently or appears depressed, you should talk to him/her about getting help. Sometimes advisees are unable to focus on schoolwork because of personal mental health issues like depression, illness, serious interpersonal problems (e.g., new or failing romances), or a family crisis (death, divorce, illness).
The first step to eating healthily is being informed. Some students have never prepare meals for themselves prior to coming to MIT. Tips on eating nutritiously might seem basic to you, but be unfamiliar to some freshmen. Without prying, you might tactfully talk about the impact of poor eating habits on academic performance and moods. Start the conversation by relaying your own experience or that of a friend's.
The excitement of college life may turn into apprehension and a longing for familiar places and people at home for freshmen. Homesickness is a common occurrence for many students, especially first-year students. Here are three tips to help homesick advisees:
- Avoid isolation by talking to someone about their feelings.
- Stay in contact with their family and friends at home.
- Make time for recreation, sleep, good nutrition and regular exercise.
International students may experience the most difficulty since they may not be able to go home, even during the November and December holidays. If any of your advisees are international, you can encourage them to connect with other students from their country by joining student organizations on campus and staying in contact with the International Students Office.
Finally, direct them to resources that can help them get through tough times. If you notice any of signs of serious emotional difficulties (i.e. depression, anxiety), immediately direct them to MIT Mental Health & Counseling Service or Student Support Services.