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Working with First-Years

Effective communication is critical if you are going to be successful in helping first-year students.

Active Listening

One of the most important skills is you can have is active listening. Your ability to listen actively, and thoughtfully, can have a profound effect on how your advisees experience their first-year at MIT.  Here are some principles to keep in mind when having conversations with your advisees:

  • Allow students to tell their story without interrupting.
  • Keep similar feelings or problems from your own experience to a minimum. 
  • Observe the emotion, voice intonation, and body language behind words.
  • Establish consistent eye contact and use affirmative head nods. 
  • Check for understanding by paraphrasing what is said.  
  • Ask open-ended questions to open dialogue, rather than asking “yes” or “no” questions.
  • Keep notes of your converstation so that you can you recall and follow up on specifics. 


  • AA Training 2021-2022 is a key source of information on Canvas that gives you month by month guidance on working with your advisees and addresses topics such as Impostor Syndrome, stress and time management.  Additionally, there are essential guidelines on how to work with your advisor.
  • Associate Link: the Associate Advising navigation guide newsletter that is emailed to you around the middle of every month with tips, resources, deadlines and event notifications. 
  • Slack ( This channel for is available for ongoing communication about registration, academics and Office of the First Year events.