For over 125 years, the Board of First-Year Advisers (BFA) has helped Harvard students transition to college life and academics. First-Year Advisers assist members of the first-year class in shaping a coherent course of study, in planning for academic opportunities like research and study abroad, in forming connections with faculty, and in balancing their intellectual and personal lives. The Board of First-Year Advisers comprises about 350 faculty and staff in addition to approximately 70 Proctors who are residents in the first-year dormitories.
First-Year Advisers are not expected to have all the answers to students’ questions or to shoulder all the responsibility for advising them. The First-Year Adviser operates as a member of a first-year student’s advising network, in addition to the assigned resident Proctor, Peer Advising Fellow, and Resident Dean of First-Year Students. Members of the Board of First-Year Advisers are the official academic adviser to their advisees, are responsible for enabling students to register for appropriate courses, and work with students across the year with a focus on the academic experience.
The Advising Relationship
Effective advisers bring a holistic perspective to the advising relationship. Good advising nurtures the whole student, acknowledging how intimately academic success is tied in to students’ success outside the classroom and to their feeling of belonging in the College. Advisers engage their advisees in wide-ranging conversations, gauge their advisees’ overall wellbeing, and reach out or refer their advisees to other advisers or staff when additional support is needed.