Common Misconceptions about Approaching a Student
If I talk to the student, I will become their counselor.
You do not need to become the student’s counselor. Often, the best thing you can do is listen, care, and make a referral.
The student will get angry at me.
Usually students are appreciative that someone cares.
I won’t know what to say or do.
You don’t need to say much. Listening and asking open-ended questions is often enough. Don’t think too much about where you make a referral. Any support office at MIT will make sure to connect the student to the appropriate resource.
I will say too much.
When people get nervous, they sometimes talk more than usual. Let the student guide the conversation and try to be comfortable with some silence.
I won’t have enough time to help.
It’s actually good to limit the amount of time you talk to a student about their issues. If you are talking for more than one hour you should carefully consider whether your conversation is still productive.