Fifth Week Flags & How to Respond


A Fifth Week Flag is an early warning email alert sent by the instructor of a class to any freshman whose work is below a grade of C at the fifth week. Spring flags will start to be sent March 14. Flags are sent via email to you from your instructor or TA, with a copy to your freshman advisor, and a copy to the UAAP.

The Flag is an alert to let you and your advisor know that you need to improve your performance in one or more subjects at the point where there is still enough time in the term to do so. Fifth Week Flags are for your information; no notation is made on your internal or external record.

Fifth Week Flags Process

  • For a first flag, you will receive an email from Dean Elizabeth Young, copied to your advisor, with a list of helpful resources. You are strongly encouraged to to reach out for help.
  • Should you receive a second flag, you will be expected to take steps to recover performance, including writing a plan for success.

Respond to a Fifth Week Flag!

Approximately 18-20% of the freshman class is flagged in any one term. But, you do need to take any flags seriously and proactively address the issue(s) affecting your performance. Do not wait until the end of the term to respond to a Fifth Week Flag - by then it will be too late. MIT subjects cannot be learned in the last few weeks of a term. Freshmen who receive Fifth Week Flags and access resources are likely to go on to pass the subject(s) in which they were flagged.

  • Be in touch with your advisor, who will also want to know what steps you are taking.
  • Make an immediate appointment with your TA or recitation instructor to discuss ways in which you can improve your performance.
  • Go to subject review sessions. These are advertised in your subject syllabus.
  • Review the useful tips on time management, test-taking skills, finals prep, and other topics found on this site.
  • Take advantage of available tutoring resources.
  • If you still believe you are in serious trouble in a subject, and may possibly fail it, meet again with your advisor and instructor.
  • Make an appointment right away with Student Support Services. Whether you are struggling with any personal, social, academic, or mental health problems, the S3 deans can help you figure out the issues. If necessary, they will advocate on your behalf and/or direct you to other helping resources.
  • Make an appointment with Dean Elizabeth Young or one of UAAP's advising staff, firstyear-www@mit.edu, to get support and formulate a plan for recovery.
  • Use the Academic Performance Self-Assessment and Recovery webform to help you identify the issues affecting your performance. After checking off all the issues that apply to your situation, take some time to formulate a recovery plan. See the Sample Academic Recovery Plan for ideas on things you can do to improve your performance.