Choosing an advisor

How important is choosing an advisor? “In 2009, the US Council of Graduate Schools in Washington DC reported survey results showing that 65% of the 1,856 doctoral students who responded identified mentoring or advising as a main factor in PhD completion”, refer to Kearns and Gardiner for further details (link below). Viridiana stated on her post, “Choosing an advisor is like choosing a partner” and I strongly agree with her. In my case, I first identified several potential advisors that shared my research interests. Next, I talked to some current grad students in order to get some feedback. Then, I took a course or independent study with each one of them such that we could get to know each other in an academic setting. Finally, once I narrowed the candidates list to a few, I scheduled one-to-one meetings in order to make my goals and adviser expectations known, as well as get to know their plans and advisee expectations. For instance, I expected my advisor to 1) get the equipment/resources I need, 2) meet with me, face-to-face, at least four times a month to talk about my project/thesis. (Ideally, they would be regularly scheduled meetings but that rarely happens), and 3) provide the type of feedback that I need. In summary, as expressed by Kearns and Gardiner, “If you’re not getting feedback, clear direction or the necessary resources, then you must do something about it.”

I strongly recommend readers to check out Hugh Kearns and Maria Gardiner column: “The care and maintenance of your advisor”. Here is the link: