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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. 


  • Canvas training for associate advisors addresses topics such as Impostor Syndrome, stress and time management.  Additionally, there are essential guidelines on how to work with your advisor.
  • The Associate Advising Navigation Guide is a monthly newsletter that is emailed 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.