At MIT, our advising system is designed to give you whatever support you need: wise guidance in choosing courses and adjusting to the work load; a shortcut to social connections, activities and people who share your interests; a sympathetic ear in tough times; help in understanding why people in Massachusetts drive in such an exciting way.
MIT provides every student with an academic advisor. In the first year (prior to choosing a major) students can define an advising relationship based on their own style, needs and interests, through one of the following three options:
- Freshman Advising Seminars are six-unit classes normally reserved for eight freshmen or fewer, and frequently taught by some of MIT's most notable faculty. While the seminar introduces you to some intriguing content - say, the "Pangenomics of Common Human Diseases," "Developing New Musical Instruments," "Sports Dynamics and Technology," "Medieval Foodcraft" or "Reduced Gravity Experiment Planning" - it is also structured to help you build a close relationship with your advisor and a small group of your fellow students.
- With Traditional Advising, you and your faculty advisor meet regularly to check in but without the seminar- or residence-based component. You would typically share your advisor with no more than four or five other students; sometimes you meet one-on-one, and sometimes all together, perhaps for lunch or dinner, a trip to a local museum, performance or sporting events, or just informal chats.
- Residence-Based Advising (RBA) combines the two major support networks for first-year students: the freshmen advising system and the residential community. Students living in Next House, McCormick Hall, Chocolate City, and Spanish House have access to resources provided by faculty and staff advisors, upper class student mentors, and staff from the Office of Undergraduate Advising and Academic Programming, Residence Life, Student Life Programs, and the Center for Health Promotion and Wellness. RBA supports students academically and socially as a collaborative group. Because the relationships that grow within the RBA community are important to every student, students commit to the program for the entire academic year.
Peer mentoring through associate advisors
To broaden your connections at MIT, each advisor is paired with an "associate advisor" - an upperclassman who can help you find your niche and get your footing, socially and academically. Since all MIT dorms include students from freshmen to seniors, first-year students often build close relationships with many upperclassmen, including their associate advisor. Support networks, especially in the residence halls, are very strong at MIT.
Within the residence halls, you have many people to turn to for advice, starting with the live-in faculty housemaster family (or families). Each dorm also has a team of graduate resident tutors (GRTs), MIT graduate students who not only provide academic tutoring but who also help build a sense of community among the residents through activities and counseling.
At the conclusion of the first year, students will have the opportunity to declare a major. Students must declare a major prior to entering their junior year. At that time, their new department will make a match between the student and a faculty member who best meets that student's academic advising needs. These department advisors often write important recommendations for graduate school and internship programs.
Other support resources
Freshmen can find outstanding advice and support through the Office of Undergraduate Advising and Academic Programming (UAAP). The UAAP provides services and programming for all undergraduates, but primarily serves first-year students and those who have not yet declared majors.
Graduate Resident Tutors (GRTs) are full-time graduate students registered at MIT, several of whom live in each undergraduate dorm. GRTs help foster a lively, positive sense of community within each residence hall. They can help you find activities and challenges to spur your personal growth; provide outlets for managing stress; and smooth out interpersonal relationships. Along with resident Housemasters, GRTs are also responsible for implementing community standards, enhancing security and promoting mutual respect between and among dorm residents.
Student Support Services (S^3) is a vital part of the MIT support network. Difficult affairs of the heart, loss of a close friend or family member, medical problems—personal hurdles like these can strain even the most mature and conscientious students. If you find yourself painfully stressed for any reason, S^3 can guide you to an appropriate support group or professional help.
The Office of Minority Education (OME) works to make sure underrepresented minority students benefit from the full range of MIT's educational, social and career opportunities. Open to incoming freshmen the summer before they start at MIT, OME's Project Interphase is a rigorous, residential seven-and-a-half week academic enrichment, confidence- and community-building program for admitted freshmen who will benefit from support in their transition to MIT. OME also runs the Tutorial Services Room (TSR), where academically advanced upperclassmen and graduate students offer tutoring in any subject a student may need.
The International Students Office (ISO) helps coordinate programs and activities, helps students with immigration issues and provides support for the Host Family program. In addition, many active student groups organize campus-wide cultural events and create a home-away-from-home for the international student community.
A wide variety of resources are available to women students at MIT, ranging from the Margaret Cheney Room (a special lounge set aside for current female students, featuring a grand piano, a complete kitchen and study areas), advisors in Student Support Services, practical self-defense classes, and health education sessions and materials. In addition, the Coordinator for Programs and Support for Women Students is available for consultation, and organizes lunches, workshops, discussions and special events to match the interests of MIT women.
MIT has endeavored to become a barrier-free campus, and is committed to providing equal opportunity to students with disabilities, allowing full participation in all services and programs. Faculty share in the Institute's responsibility to make a reasonable effort to provide an effective alternative means for qualified students with disabilities to fulfill course requirements. To learn more about the resources available to students with disabilities, visit the Disabilities Services within Student Support Services.