A hallmark of Yale’s advising system is the First-Year Counselor Program, which affords first-year students access to experienced, mature, and knowledgeable members of the senior class. The program selects exceptional seniors to live among first-year students on Old Campus or in residential colleges and offer oversight, advice, and guidance.

First-Year Counselors, colloquially known as “FroCos,” seek to ease the transition of incoming first-years to the academic, social, and cultural life of Yale College.

First-Year Counselor Applicants

The opportunity to support students encountering Yale for the first time is profoundly important and uniquely rewarding. In the eyes of many first-years, no position at Yale is more significant; and for many counselors, no other job is more satisfying.

At the same time, given the heavy demands of the position, applicants are urged think critically about how serving as a counselor fits into their plans and obligations for senior year. They are encouraged to discuss the prospect of applying with their residential college dean. They may also find it useful to consult heads of residential colleges, cultural center directors, and current first-year counselors.

To be eligible to apply, students must:

  • Be juniors in good academic standing during both terms of the academic year 2020-2021 possess the skills necessary to work with a students of a variety of ethnicities, socioeconomic statuses, sexual orientations, and religions;
  • Demonstrate a strong record of academic success, personal maturity, and commitment to serving others;
  • Students who have overcome significant academic or personal challenges during their Yale careers may have points of view that are unique and valuable for first-years. Qualified applicants should consult the residential college dean and/or Dean Hannah Peck.

Candidates with experience working with the cultural centers, OISS, Chaplain’s Office, LGBTQ community, and others are highly encouraged to apply.

FAQs

How many hours do counselors work per week?

It differs from week to week. The workload is heaviest at the beginning of the academic year and during exam seasons. In general, the workload eases a bit over the course of the year.

The dean predetermines certain work hours, such as duty nights. However, much of a counselor’s work occurs on ad hoc basis, such as initiating meals with first-years or responding to crisis situations.

Does duty prevent a counselor from attending special events such as Masquerade?

When there are special events that most or all of the counselors wish to attend, each counselor typically covers about an hour of duty. Outside that hour, the counselor may attend the event; however, they must also be ready—and able—to assist a first-year should the need arise. Senior Masquerade is an exception: every counselor may attend the event in its entirety (but is still on call).

May counselors be active participants in senior societies?

Yes. However, whenever conflicts occur, counselor obligations must take precedence over society activities (as with all other extracurricular activities).

To whom do counselors report?

The Yale College Dean’s Office runs the First-Year Counselor Program and hires the selected counselors each year. However, residential college deans manage the individual college teams on a day-to-day basis.

What is the YCDO looking for in counselors?

The most crucial quality in a counselor is empathy. A counselor’s mission is to care for first-years in order that they feel welcomed by the Yale community and equipped to succeed academically and socially. 

Counselor teams are intended to be as diverse as possible in many senses: they are designed to include some extroverts, some introverts, students from different backgrounds, students studying different disciplines, and students with different functional strengths like organization or creativity.

Each year, certain counselors are selected who struggled one way or another in their first few years at Yale. These challenges might be related, for example, to academics, mental health, or finances. Such experiences often shape people into particularly compassionate adults. As first-years grapple with many types of obstacles, it is helpful to have counselors who can directly relate.

May counselors drink alcohol in the same space as their counselees?

No. This policy is in place to protect counselors, who are employees of Yale and as such carry some authority. A counselor who witnesses a first-year drinking and does not intervene assumes some responsibility for any situation that may later arise as a result.

However, this restriction is less obtrusive than it may seem at first. The only common environment in which a counselor and counselee have access to alcohol within the same space is a student organization event. Counselors who plan to remain active in such a student organization should work with the organization’s leadership at the beginning of the year to explain the restriction. Most organizations have been able to manage this restriction without a problem.

Does the above policy apply to college events?

If alcohol at an event is managed by a professional organization (like at a college dance), a counselor may drink and be in the same space as a counselee. (In this case, of course, very few first-years will be able to drink anyway.)

May counselors have alcohol in their suites?

Yes, if of legal age. At the same time, counselors are expected to be extremely responsible in their use of alcohol and set a good example for the first-years. 

May counselors have parties in their suites?

Yes, insofar as the party is contained within the suite, does not have first-years in attendance, and does not attract negative attention. Again, FroCos are expected to maintain exemplary standards of behavior.

May counselors have a second job?

Yes, provided permission from the residential college dean. FroCo duties take priority over all other commitments, so any second job must be flexible and limited to 10 hours per week.

May counselors be romantically or sexually involved with first-year students?

No. Counselors have a great deal of authority and influence in the lives of first-years. The inherently imbalanced power dynamic is inappropriate for any romantic or sexual interaction, even if consensual. This restriction holds irrespective of whether the first-year and the counselor share the same college affiliation.

Available Positions

  • Berkeley: 7
  • Branford: 8
  • Davenport: 8
  • Ezra Stiles: 8
  • Franklin: 10
  • Hopper: 7
  • Jonathan Edwards: 7
  • Morse: 8
  • Pauli Murray: 10
  • Pierson: 8
  • Saybrook: 8
  • Silliman: 10
  • Timothy Dwight: 10
  • Trumbull: 7

Each counselor team has a head counselor who is appointed by the head and dean. In addition to the responsibilities delineated by the residential college dean, the head counselors represent their teams once a month in meetings with Dean Peck. 

Compensation

Compensation in a given college depends on the average number of counselees per counselor. In the ten colleges whose first-years live on Old Campus, each counselor was paid $10,491 for the 2018-19 academic year. Counselors in Franklin, Murray, and Silliman were paid $8,393, while counselors in TD were paid $7,344.  

Student Financial and Administrative Services treats counselor compensation as job earnings. Therefore, counselor compensation does not affect a student’s financial aid award. Moreover, Yale does not consider counselor compensation to be taxable, so counselors do not receive a 1099 form. Compensation will be automatically credited to the counselor’s account with Student Financial & Administrative Services before the beginning of each term. To learn more about counselor compensation, see the spreadsheet of financial examples for FroCos (XLSX) and/or contact your financial aid adviser at SFAS.

Counselors seeking additional income may work a second job for up to 10 hours a week provided permission from the residential college dean.

Residence

Counselors are housed in one of the entryways for first-year students, either on Old Campus or in Timothy Dwight, Benjamin Franklin, Pauli Murray or Silliman. All counselors are housed in single bedrooms, usually in a suite shared with at least one other counselor.

Duties and Expectations

Given the somewhat unpredictable needs of first-years, it is impossible to anticipate all the duties that a counselor might be expected to perform. The primary responsibilities, however, are listed below.

Any applicant with concerns about their ability to fulfill one or more of these duties should consult their residential college dean. Otherwise, a counselor who fails to meet these expectations may be subject to immediate dismissal from the program.

Training

All counselors are required to attend a series of training sessions before they begin their duties.  These sessions provide an opportunity for counselors to:

  • familiarize themselves with the nature and scope of their duties
  • learn to work together with fellow members of the counselor team
  • meet members of the university community who will be sources of information and support for them throughout the year
  • analyze typical student-related problems and receive guidance in how to respond to them

Spring training

Note: Students who are abroad during the spring term or have conflicts that rise to the level of a Dean’s Excuse may request to make up the training at a later date. Those students may be asked to return to campus early at the end of the summer.)

Fall training

Fall training begins Friday evening, and then runs all day and into the evening from Saturday to Thursday. Attendance at all sessions is mandatory.

Presence on Campus

Counselors must be in residence from the beginning of counselor training to the end of each term, including reading period and final examination period. One or two members the team must stay until the residences close each semester.

Should an imperative obligation (such as an interview for a job or graduate school) require a counselor to leave campus briefly, the counselor may work with fellow team members and the college dean to make accommodations. Requests to leave campus cannot ordinarily be granted during the first month of the fall term. 

Counselors are not on duty when the college is in recess (including mid-semester recesses). In the spring term, at least one member of the team should be in residence when the dorms reopen. All members of the team must return by the first-year registration meeting. 

Duty Nights

At least two counselors are “on duty” every Friday and Saturday night from 10 pm to 2 am. Every college also has four other duty hours each week as determined by the residential dean. While on duty, counselors must be in the dormitory and readily available to the first-years, other counselors, and the dean and head.

For the first 10 days of the term, duty occurs every night. In addition, counselors are expected to be on duty for portions of Tap Night, Halloween, Spring Fling, and other higher-risk occasions for first-years.

Each counselor team develops a rotating duty schedule, and a counselor is typically on duty one night every week. 

Advising and Oversight

Counselors should be thoroughly familiar with Chapters I, II, and III of the Yale College Programs of Study, which explain in detail the undergraduate curriculum and academic regulations of Yale College. 

Counselors should also be thoroughly familiar with the Undergraduate Regulations and must assume reasonable responsibility for seeing that their first-years honor the regulations contained therein, particularly the rules concerning social functions, alcoholic beverages, noise, fire extinguishers, and fire alarms. Counselors are expected to address immediately any violations they encounter and report them to the residential college dean or head. They are also expected to report promptly any custodial or security concerns they notice to the dean, head, or other appropriate administrator.

Teamwork and Communication

Counselors should not attempt to carry out their responsibilities alone. They are expected to work in concert with a team of counselors who collectively help first-year students adjust to college life. Counselor teams meet weekly with their residential college dean and are frequently in touch throughout the week by email and phone. In addition, the head counselor from each team meets independently with the representatives of other teams to discuss matters that affect more than one college.

All counselors must post their photos on the Yale Facebook so that the head or dean can readily remind him or herself of the student in this role as need be.

Conduct & Professionalism

Inasmuch as counselors are expected to assist Yale College in upholding the Undergraduate Regulations, it is assumed that counselors will themselves be exemplary in their conduct. A counselor who violates the Undergraduate Regulations, and is thereby subject to censure from the Executive Committee, may be immediately dismissed from the program at the discretion of the YCDO.

Counselors assume positions of professional responsibility and are therefore expected to relate to first-years in a manner that is appropriate to their position. Because of the unequal dynamic inherent in the relationship between counselors and first-years, sexual interactions between them are inappropriate. Counselors must not, therefore, engage in any romantic or sexual behavior with any first-year or admitted student who has not yet matriculated, regardless of whether the behavior is consensual. Counselors who violate this restriction will be immediately dismissed from the program.

Prioritization of Counselor Commitments

Serving as a counselor should be a student’s primary extracurricular activity. A counselor may only accept a second term-time job for up to ten hours per week with prior permission from the residential college dean. The same restriction holds for any significant extracurricular commitment that would demand more than ten hours per week.