More faculty members are needed to act as teaching and nonteaching freshman advisors for the 1,000 members of the incoming Class of 2005.
Only 50 percent of freshman advisors come from faculty ranks now, and of those, fewer than 1 percent are junior faculty. Junior faculty add a special dimension to advising, being closer in experience and background to MIT's newest and most eager students.
The rest of the freshman advisors come from research and administrative staff. While these nonfaculty advisors are among the most committed, freshmen nonetheless have an expectation that they will be advised by MIT faculty.
Freshmen are advised in one of two ways: within a Freshman Advising Seminar or by a nonseminar "traditional" advisor. In both cases, the Academic Resource Center matches advisors with an upperclass student associate advisor who is trained to assist and enhance the advising.
In a Freshman Advising Seminar, the faculty member is both the seminar leader and first-year advisor to a group of eight freshman. This advising group meets weekly for the seminar in the fall term (when intensive contact during a student's critical first semester is very important), but the advising relationship continues through the second term after the seminar ends. Students receive six units of credit for the seminar.
Because 80 percent of incoming freshman will prefer to be advised within a seminar, Academic Resource staff need enough faculty seminar leaders for 100 seminars.
Faculty members who would like to connect with freshmen but cannot commit to teaching a seminar are more than welcome to serve as traditional advisors. Traditional advisors have three to five advisees with whom they meet on an individual basis several times per semester.
As MIT progresses in its mission to house all undergraduates on campus by 2002, experimental programs in residence-based advising are currently ongoing (in McCormick and Random Halls) with plans to extend the pilot for 2001.
In residence-based advising, the advising styles (seminar or traditional) remain the same; the major difference is that both the upperclass associate advisor and the freshman advisees all live in a given dormitory. Residence-based freshman faculty advisors also function as "house fellows" for the dormitory. Academic Resource staff are looking for faculty interested in participating in these experiments in bringing together living and learning.
For more information about all forms of freshman advising, contact Dean Donna Friedman at firstname.lastname@example.org or Dean Julie Norman 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 30.
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on March 8, 2001.