First-Year Counselor Program


The First-Year Counselor Program was established in 1938 and has been ever since an intrinsic and essential component of Yale’s advising system for first-years. The program has evolved in many ways over the years, but the general purpose of the program has remained the same: to help ease the transition of incoming first-years to the academic, social, and cultural life of Yale College.

Applicants are urged to read this information carefully and seriously consider how serving as a counselor fits into their plans and obligations for senior year. They are also encouraged to discuss the prospect of applying for a position with their residential college dean. Heads of residential colleges, cultural center directors, and current first-year counselors may also be useful to consult.

While the responsibilities of counselors are heavy, and the demands made on their time and energy are great, 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.

Structure of the First-Year Counselor Program

Each residential college is allotted a certain number of FroCos depending on the number of the incoming first-year class in that college, aiming for an average of 14 per FroCo with some variance around that number. 
In the colleges where first-year students live in their residential college, the college leaderships have chosen to have larger FroCo teams. Because those FroCos are then assigned fewer first-year students, and because the expected workload is lower, they are paid less as a result. 
Here are the number of FroCos assigned to each college for the 2018-19 academic year:
Berkeley 7 Morse 8
Branford 8 Pauli Murray 10
Davenport 8 Pierson 8
Ezra Stiles 8 Saybrook 8
Franklin 10 Silliman 10
Hopper 7 Timothy Dwight 10
Jonathan Edwards 7 Trumbull 7

All FroCos will receive compensation to be applied to their room and board charges. If a student already has room and board covered from another source (financial aid, scholarships, etc.) the funds will be applied to other Yale bills or placed into the student’s bursar account. Please see the examples below in the FroCos and Finances section.

The exact amount each FroCo will receive depends on the room and board charges for the 19-20 academic year. Those charges have not been announced yet, so below is information about how the 18-19 FroCos were compensated.

For the ten colleges whose first-years live on Old Campus, FroCos were be paid $10,491 for the year. 

For the four colleges whose first-years live in the residential colleges, the amount allocated to each college was based on the FroCo team size chosen by their college leadership.  The larger the college team size relative to their first-year incoming class, the lower the workload, and hence, the lower the compensation.  Accordingly, for 2018-2019 the ten FroCos in Franklin, Murray, and Silliman were paid $8,393, while the ten FroCos in TD were paid $7,344.  FroCos in these four colleges seeking supplementary compensation had the opportunity to request of their college leadership additional, paid non-FroCo work within the college.

Application Procedures

Apply to be a First-Year Counselor 


Applicants must be juniors in good academic standing during both terms of the academic year 2018-2019. First-year counselors are expected to be responsible and mature students who can draw upon their own experiences and the training they receive to respond appropriately to the wide range of questions and issues that first-year college students encounter. Prospective applicants should therefore be able to demonstrate a strong record of academic success, personal maturity, and commitment to serving others.

Students who have overcome significant academic and/or personal challenges during their Yale careers may have points of view that are unique and valuable for incoming first-years, and such applicants should consult the residential college dean and/or Hannah Peck, the Assistant Dean of Student Affairs, before applying.

Counselor applicants must have the skills and/or experience to work with a diverse student population, including but not limited to ethnicity, culture, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation, religion, students with disabilities, international students, and other communities.

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

Duties and Expectations

Given the nature of the position and the often unpredictable needs of first-years, it is impossible to anticipate all the duties that a counselor might be expected to perform, but the primary responsibilities are listed below. These duties will be explained in greater detail during counselor training, but if an applicant has any concerns or reservations about their ability to fulfill these duties, they should discuss their concerns with their residential college dean. It is important to understand that any counselor who fails to fulfill any of these expectations may be subject to immediate dismissal from the program.

First-Year Counselor 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, discuss relevant issues of concern, and meet various members of the university community who will be sources of information and support for them throughout the year. It also allows counselors to analyze typical student-related problems and receive guidance in how to respond to them.

Spring training will be held March 29-31. During this time counselor teams will also have the opportunity to meet with their deans and begin learning to work as a unit.  (Note: students abroad during the spring term or with unavoidable conflicts like a varsity athletic competition or a death in the family will have the opportunity to listen to some of these sessions and should contact for information.  These students may also be asked to make up some of these sessions during fall training.)

Fall training will run all day and into the evening from Saturday, August 17, through Thursday evening, August 22. First-year counselors can move into their fall-term room beginning on Thursday, August 15. On Friday evening, August 16, counselors meet with their residential college dean, the first fall training session.

Attendance to all sessions is mandatory


2019-20 counselors move into their fall-term room beginning on Thursday, August 15.

On Friday evening, August 16, counselors meet with their residential college dean, the first official training session.

The major responsibility of counselors is to be a nearby and ready resource for their counselees. To be effective, counselors must get to know their first-years sufficiently to understand their specific needs and interests, and be able to connect them to the appropriate resources on campus. To gain this level of familiarity, counselors need to spend time regularly with their counselees, which is why living and eating with first-years are essential components of the program. Counselors should be particularly careful to allow first-years to hold their own opinions and form their own judgments about the academic and social life at Yale.

Counselors are expected to be in residence by the beginning of counselor training until the end of each term, including reading period and final examination period. Requests to leave campus overnight during the term must be approved by the counselor’s supervisor(s) and cannot ordinarily be granted during the first month of the fall term. Counselors should be in the company of their counselees frequently, and their availability is particularly important in the evenings, especially during the times of midterm tests and final examinations.    

There are some days in which counselors are expected to be on duty and on site, including but not limited to: Tap Night, Halloween, Spring Fling, etc. Dean Peck will communicate these dates to the counselors and the residential college deans at the beginning of the academic year.  In addition, each college needs coverage through to the end of both exam periods; the residential college dean will determine the schedule with the counselors. Please note that counselors are not on duty when the college is in recess e.g. October Recess, November Recess, Winter Recess, Spring Recess.  

Weekend Duty

It is particularly important that at least two members of the counselor team be present in the dormitories (in or near their rooms) during the evening on weekend nights. To ensure such presence, each counselor team develops a rotating duty schedule, and each counselor is typically “on duty” one weekend night every week. While the counselors are on duty, they are expected to be in the dormitory and readily available to the first-years, other counselors, and to the dean and head throughout the evening.

All colleges run duty nights on Friday and Saturday evenings from 10pm-2am with two FroCos on duty each night.  Each college also has four other duty hours each week, assigned at the discretion of the residential dean.  

Advising and Oversight

First-year counselors form an integral part of Yale’s first-year advising system. They are therefore expected to 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, and the Academic Information on the first-year page, which emphasizes information most relevant to first-years.

Counselors are also expected to assist the college dean and head in overseeing the health and safety of first-years and in promoting the values of a residential academic community. They should therefore 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 person.

Teamwork and Communication

As counselors carry out their duties, it is critically important for them to recognize that they do not—and cannot—carry out their responsibilities alone; they are expected to work in concert with a team of people who collectively help first-year students adjust to college life. Counselors are expected to stay in regular contact with the other members of their counselor team and with their residential college dean, and with other center directors (as appropriate). All 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 also 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. All counselors must understand that they are more than just students; they are also representatives of the Yale College Dean’s Office, and they assume positions of professional responsibility. All counselors are therefore expected to relate to members of the first-year class 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.

Other Commitments

Serving as a counselor should be a student’s primary extra-curricular activity. A counselor may not accept any other term-time employment beyond ten hours per week without prior permission from the assistant dean of student affairs and the counselor’s supervisor(s). The same restriction holds for any other significant extra-curricular commitment that would demand more than ten hours per week. In case of any doubt whatsoever, the nominee should consult their residential college dean or Dean Peck before accepting the appointment.

Head Counselors

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


Counselors receive a portion of their room and board fees as compensation.  They are housed in one of the residential college’s entryways for first-year students, either on the Old Campus or in Timothy Dwight, Benjamin Franklin, Pauli Murray or Silliman College. (All counselors are housed in single bedrooms, usually in a suite shared with at least one other first-year counselor.) The credit will be automatically credited to the first-year counselor’s account with Student Financial & Administrative Services before the beginning of each term.

Compensation is treated as job earnings with respect to financial aid awards. The compensation received is considered as satisfying whatever job requirement is in the package. Compensation in excess of the expected amount will not affect any component of the aid award. Therefore, no matter what the level of aid received, a student’s financial aid award will not be adjusted due to the receipt of the counselor compensation. Yale does not consider counselor compensation to be taxable, and you will not receive a 1099 form. If you have any further questions, see your financial aid adviser at SFAS.

Frocos on aid examples


When are FroCos required to be on campus?

FroCos can begin moving into their suites on Thursday, August 15, but must be on campus by 5 pm on Friday, August 16.  FroCos should plan to live on campus the entire term, and are expected to be on campus for the entire month of September.  Individual scheduling requests can be worked out within the college teams with the help of their residential dean.  For example, if a member of the team needs to travel for medical school interviews, or if someone needs to leave before the last day of the term. 

FroCos are off duty during official breaks, like October recess and November recess.  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 be back by the first-year registration meeting.  One or two members of each FroCo team are required to stay till the residences close each semester. 

In general, FroCos should plan to be around, but the deans know seniors are busy and will have some commitments that may take them off campus for a bit each semester.

How many hours a week do FroCos work?

It differs from week to week.  The beginning of the year will have a much more intense workload than the end of second semester, and there will always be an uptick in students who need attention around midterms and finals. Much of the work done by FroCos is scheduled by each individual FroCo.  For example, having meals with their frosh, or finding other ways to check in with them.  Other hours, like duty nights, aren’t as flexible.

How does duty work?

All colleges run duty nights on Friday and Saturday evenings from 10 pm-2 am with two FroCos on duty each night.  Each college also has four other duty hours each week, assigned at the discretion of the residential dean. 

There are some large/high risk events during the year when all FroCos will need to participate in the duty schedule and/or be on call.  These include Acapella Tap Night, Halloween, the First-Year Dance, Spring Fling, etc.  The duty schedule for each of these events is determined by each college. 

For the first ten days the first-year students are on campus each FroCo team is expected to have a pair of FroCos on duty each night 10pm to midnight. 

What about events all the seniors want to go to, like our college dance, or the Senior Masquerade?

What traditionally happens for events like this is that FroCos will each take an hour or so of duty and then attend the event, with the understanding that they might be called back to help with an emergency.  For Senior Masquerade, we make a special exception and instead of having a few FroCos on duty, everyone is on call.  That means everyone can attend the event, but if something happens they need to be ready (and able) to come back and help.

What happens if I’m selected for a senior society?

Many FroCos are also active participants in senior societies.  However, as with any extra-curricular activity, your FroCo duties will always need to come first. 

Who do the FroCos report to?

The FroCo program is run out of the Yale College Dean’s Office, but the individual teams are managed by the residential college deans.  That means the YCDO hires the FroCos (and the FroCos are ultimately responsible to the Dean of Yale College), but day to day management happens on a college level. 

What is FroCo training like?

Intense, but awesome.  Training is a time for you to bond with your team and get information about a variety of things that you will need to know for your FroCo year.  We don’t expect FroCos to know the answer to everything right off the bat, but we do expect you to know where to look.  Training focuses on introducing you to resources on campus and giving you the skills to help your frosh thrive in their first year.

What qualities are the YCDO looking for in FroCos?

First, empathy.  The main job of a FroCo is to care for their frosh.  That care is critical to the frosh feeling welcomed on our campus and integrated into the Yale community.  FroCo teams are selected to be as diverse as possible in all sense of the word.  Some extroverts, some introverts, people from all backgrounds, students from all disciplines, people with different functional strengths like organization or creativity. 

Each year we have some FroCos who struggled one way or another in their first few years at Yale.  Some academically, some with mental health issues, some finding their footing.  Those experiences often shape people into more compassionate adults.  The frosh will be dealing with all kinds of issues and it is helpful to have FroCos who can directly relate. 

How do FroCos get paid?

FroCos are compensated for their work through credit towards their room and board bills.  For FroCos who receive financial aid and already have the room and board bills covered, the funds can go towards Yale Health coverage, your student income contribution, or other bursar bills.  If there are funds left over after everything is accounted for, they will be distributed to you through your bursar account.  

Is it true FroCos can’t drink alcohol in the same space as frosh?

Super true, but this is never as big a deal as people imagine it to be.  The only common instance where this happens is in student organizations.  If you plan to continue being an active member of a particular student org you can talk with that organization’s leadership at the beginning of the year and explain your restrictions.  Most organizations have been able to manage this without a problem.

This policy is in place to protect you. FroCos are employees of Yale, and as such carry some authority. If you see a frosh drinking and don’t do anything about it, you take on responsibility for that frosh in some ways.  If something happens later in the night and the frosh ends up in a difficult situation, they can claim that you knew what they were doing and so they thought it was alright. 

What about all college events?

If you are in a situation where the alcohol is managed by a professional organization (like at a college dance) you can drink and be in the same space with your frosh.  But in this case, almost all of the frosh will not be able to drink.  So you will still not be drinking with them. 

Can FroCos have alcohol in their suites?

If you are 21, yes.  Your suite is your home, so if you are of age you can have alcohol there.  We do ask that you are extremely responsible and set a good example for the frosh. 

Can FroCos have parties in their suites?

Again, yes, but we ask that you are responsible.  We will go over this more in FroCo training, but the basic principle is that your party shouldn’t attract negative attention.  It should be contained within your suite and not have any first-years in attendance. 

Can FroCos have a second job?

Yes, but you must get permission from your residential college dean first.  Your FroCo duties take priority over all other commitments, so if you have a second job it must be flexible.  Second jobs are limited to ten hours per week. 

Can FroCos be romantically/sexually involved with first-year students?

No.  FroCos have a great deal of authority and influence in the lives of the frosh.  The power dynamics are too imbalanced for any romantic or sexual interactions.  This applies to all frosh, not just the frosh in your particular college.  If you think you have found the love of your life, you can wait till after graduation to purse it.  In the long run, one year won’t make a difference.