As an advisor I think I've been most useful as a sounding board. You can try out your ideas on me and I'll have some response and then you can adjust your plans if you want.
This year (2008-2009) I have an associate advisor, Austin Chu, email@example.com. Austin is an MEng student and has been my advisee for a couple of years. We are still trying to figure out what his being an associate advisor means. One approximation is that you can ask him questions, too. I still need to sign the forms.
By the way, there aren't any rules for advising. You need to get an advisor's signature on your registration form on Reg. Day and if you add or drop a course. Otherwise I'm available to answer questions. Some answers I know, some I can look up, some I can point you in the right direction... If they get procedural, I'll probably suggest that you contact Vera Sayzew or Anne Hunter in the EECS Ugrad Office. I'm supposed to spend about 3% of my time on advising, so don't expect a huge amount of help. If you need help, most definitely ask me and I can help sort things out, but, if it's a lot of time, you'll probably end up dealing with someone else.
The other situation that I get involved in is at the end of a term when one of my advisee's grades fall below the line (being registered for fewer than 36 units and/or getting lower than a 3.0 GPA for the term). At this point, the department asks *me* what's going on. In the more straight-forward situations the advisee has already told me that he/she had the measles, missed a lot of work, decided to try to pull things out at the end of the term, and didn't quite make it. At the other end, I try to contact the advisee and eventually find him/her and we try to understand what went wrong, and, even more important, why next term is going to go ok. If we don't find a good plan, it might be time for the advisee to take a term off. If we have a good plan, then *I* get to convince the department and the CAP that the plan will work and that the problems of the last term are under control.
I was an undergraduate here, but quite a while ago. (S.B. 1973 Mathematics) I have some not ancient experience with being a student: I completed my MBA at Simmons in August, 2000. For completeness, I should mention that I also have a Master's Degree in Computer Science from Boston University.
If you've read this far and have any comments I would be happy to receive them: dcurtis at csail.mit.edu