The Freshman Advising Seminars program (FAS) is still urgently looking for about 20 more faculty and instructional staff to teach and advise members of the incoming Class of 2003.
Faculty members who teach a Freshman Advising Seminar in fall 1999 receive a $1,500 scholarly allowance. Non-faculty seminar leaders may present proposals for up to $1,500 for seminar expenses and professional development funds.
Nearly 90 percent of the incoming class will want to participate in an FAS, which means 115 seminars will be needed to meet the demand. As the FAS program prepares to celebrate its 13th year as the second most successful innovation in undergraduate education (after UROP), it still relies on volunteers each year to get enough faculty participation to meet the enormous freshman demand for one of these seminars.
The goal of an FAS is to enhance freshman advising by offering intensive and frequent contact during the critical first semester of the freshman year. In an FAS, the faculty member meets weekly in the fall term with a group of eight freshmen for whom he or she is also the freshman academic advisor for the whole year.
The seminar topic (for which the students receive six units of credit) may be vocational or avocational, and the teaching style is informal: discussion-centered rather than lecture-style, often with a hands-on focus. Most faculty members who have taught Freshman Advising Seminars report that they are one of their most satisfying interactions with undergraduates.
The advising part is augmented by the participation in the seminar of one or two volunteer student Associate Advisors. The Academic Resource Center has a list of enthusiastic, well-trained associate advisors and can assist in helping an FAS leader find a good match.
The faculty/staff deadline for participating in an FAS is Wednesday, April 10, so information about the seminars may be sent to the incoming freshmen in a timely manner. For more information, contact Donna Friedman firstname.lastname@example.org or Bonnie Walters in the Academic Resource Center, Rm 7-104, email@example.com, x3-6771.
A version of this article appeared in the March 31, 1999 issue of MIT Tech Talk (Volume 43, Number 24).