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First-Year Flags

A First-Year Flag is an early warning email alert sent by the instructor of a class to any first-year student whose work is below a grade of C after Add Date. Flags are sent via email to you from your instructor or TA, with a copy to your first-year advisor, and a copy to the Office of the First Year.

The Flag is an alert to let you and your advisor know that you need to improve your performance in one or more subjects at the point where there is still enough time in the term to do so. First Year Flags are for your information; no notation is made on your internal or external record.

First Year Flags Process

  • For a first flag, you will receive an email from Dean Elizabeth Young, copied to your advisor, with a list of helpful resources. You are strongly encouraged to to reach out for help.
  • Should you receive a second flag, you will be expected to take steps to recover performance, including writing a plan for success.

Respond to a Flag!

Approximately 18% of the first-year class is flagged in any one term. But, you do need to take any flags seriously and proactively address the issue(s) affecting your performance. Do not wait until the end of the term to respond to a First Year Flag – by then it will be too late. MIT subjects cannot be learned in the last few weeks of a term. First-year students who receive First Year Flags and access resources are likely to go on to pass the subject(s) in which they were flagged.

  • Be in touch with your advisor, who will also want to know what steps you are taking.
  • Make an immediate appointment with your TA or recitation instructor to discuss ways in which you can improve your performance.
  • Go to subject review sessions. These are advertised in your subject syllabus.
  • Review the useful tips on time management, test-taking skills, finals prep, and other topics found on this site.
  • Take advantage of available tutoring resources.
  • If you still believe you are in serious trouble in a subject, and may possibly fail it, meet again with your advisor and instructor.
  • Make an appointment right away with Student Support Services. Whether you are struggling with any personal, social, academic, or mental health problems, the S3 deans can help you figure out the issues. If necessary, they will advocate on your behalf and/or direct you to other helping resources.
  • Make an appointment with Dean Elizabeth Young or one of the Office of the First Year’s advising staff,, to get support and formulate a plan for recovery.
  • Use the Academic Performance Self-Assessment and Recovery webform to help you identify the issues affecting your performance. After checking off all the issues that apply to your situation, take some time to formulate a recovery plan. 

Two or More Flags: Make a Recovery Plan

If you receive two or more Flags, you need to take action on your own behalf to improve your performance. The Office of the First Year wants you to not only assess the issues affecting performance, but also to formulate a written plan for improving performance. Be Proactive and note the steps below.

  1. You will be asked to formulate a recovery plan and sent it to your advisor and Dean Elizabeth YoungComplete the Academic Performance Self-Assessment and Recovery webform to develop your plan or develop your own written assessment and recovery plan. If developing your own plan, it must be emailed to your firstyear advisor with a cc to Dean Elizabeth Young.
  2. Dean Young will simultaneously contact your first-year advisor with similar instructions to urgently meet with you to discuss your plan.

You may need to consider dropping a flagged class in order to dedicate the necessary time and effort to pass your other subjects. Take a look at the information about making the decision to drop a subject or not.

You should also consult your advisor and/or Dean Elizabeth Young –, about your options.