Welcome to Stanford: The NSO Conversation

Your initial meeting is a time to get acquainted, gauge how your student is handling their transition to Stanford, and help them begin to develop a plan for moving forward . Some of your advisees may expect you to plan their schedule for them; as an advisor, you may choose to use that expectation as an opportunity to direct them toward the tools they can use to do this for themselves.

The New Student Orientation (NSO) Group Meeting

As a Pre-Major Advisor, you are charged with helping your advisees feel like they belong at Stanford.  The students in your group are all drawn from the same residence complex by their (shared) Academic Advising Director, but they probably won't all be from the same dorm. They may be tired, nervous, excited, anxious, euphoric, frightened, and/or homesick and your first meetings are the perfect opportunity to build connection, belonging, trust, and comfort..  Here are just a few ideas for how to get the most out of the group meeting:

  • Ask your advisees to interview and/or introduce one another to the group
  • Ask them to describe the NSO experience in one word, one song, one image, one sound, and one smell
  • Do a "Show-and-Tell" where they describe an object they bought from home that has personal meaning for them.
  • Take a silly group photo in front of a Stanford landmark
  • Ask them to write a letter to themselves that you will send them at the end of their freshman year
  • Use the Three Books prompts on this website to start a conversation
  • Ask each student to share one thing they learned at an Engaging with Faculty panel
  • Give them postcards to send to someone who helped them get here, so they can say "Thank You" or

The New Student Orientation (NSO) 1:1 Conversation

Getting to know each other

See if you can find the reason you were matched with one another . Share your role at the university, and  your reasons for volunteering to be a PMA . This is a great time to talk about Stanford’s Multiple Mentor Model, the advising philosophy that students are best served when they are able to seek guidance from multiple sources, and to explain that you are one of many people they can use to gather information and weigh options but ultimately it’s up to them to make their own decisions . 

Preparation and transition

You may ask: What are you most apprehensive about? What are you most excited about? Are you settling in okay? How is the move going? Questions like: How and when did you arrive at Stanford? Tell me about your high school—what would have been a typical day? What do you think the biggest change will be at Stanford? may seem simple, but they can tell you a great deal about a student’s background, support and academic preparation . 

A few pointers

For student still unsure about what classes to enroll in, directing them toward the Engineering Handbook or Cardinal Compass can be tremendously helpful . Stress that the first week is a time of flexibility and that while they may choose to visit a few classes before deciding on a final study list, it can be problematic—or impossible—to add classes after that first Friday . 

Setting expectations

Remind your student that until they declare a major you will meet with one another each quarter, and that they will have an advising hold in Axess until that meeting; their Autumn Quarter hold will be lifted automatically at the end of NSO, but you will lift their Winter Quarter ADV hold after your Autumn Quarter meeting . Identify the best ways of reaching one another, and agree on who will initiate contact (typically the student), and when.