In its outline of the principles and priorities for the first year, the Committee on the Undergraduate Program underlined the need for "a faculty-based advising system that supports students in their development from high school seniors to members of a university living and learning community." More faculty are needed to advise the 1,000 members of the incoming Class of 2004.
Only 50 percent of MIT's current freshman advisors are faculty or instructional staff, and of those, fewer than 1 percent are junior faculty. The rest of the freshman advisors come from research and administrative staff. While these nonfaculty advisors are among the most committed to being advisors, freshmen nonethless expect to be advised by MIT faculty.
Freshmen are advised in one of two ways: within a Freshman Advising Seminar (FAS) or by a nonseminar "traditional" advisor. Because the majority of the incoming freshman class (85 percent) will opt for a seminar, Academic Resource Staff are trying to find enough faculty seminar leaders to accommodate the demand for 100 seminars (there are now only 60).
In a Freshman Advising Seminar, the faculty member and his or her group of eight freshman advisees meet weekly in the fall term. (The advising relationship continues, however, for the whole first year.) The advising is enhanced because of the intensive contact with freshmen during the critical first semester. Students receive six units of credit for the seminar.
Faculty may also serve as traditional (i.e., nonseminar) advisors. Faculty members who would like to connect with freshmen but simply don't have enough time to commit to teaching a seminar are more than welcome. Traditional advisors take from three to five advisees, with whom they meet on an individual basis several times per semester.
For both options, the presence of one or two volunteer student associate advisors serves to augment the advising part. The Academic Resource Center can help advisors find a good match from among a large group of enthusiastic and well-trained associate advisors.
Faculty members who lead a Freshman Advising Seminar in fall 2000 will receive a $1,500 scholarly allowance. (Non-faculty seminar leaders may present proposals for up to $1,500 for seminar expenses and professional development funds.) There may also be funds available to help faculty who would like to develop a seminar having unusual expenses. Traditional advisors receive $60 per advisee for the year for advising-related expenses.
For more information about freshman advising, contact Donna Friedman at firstname.lastname@example.org or Bonnie Walters at email@example.com in the Academic Resource Center, Rm 7-104, x3-6771. The deadline to commit to leading a Freshman Advising Seminar is Friday, March 31.
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on March 8, 2000.