Student-advisor: Friendship or master-slave relationship? – Part 1

Since entering graduate school, I have found myself lucky to have a respectful and positive relationship with my advisor (and I hope it goes on like this…). Unlike many other students, the university ranking was not the basis of my decision-making process. I was very picky about the faculty member I was going to work with because I had to face a huge transition. Within a couple of weeks from my graduation as a bachelor student, I started my PhD degree. It is crystal clear that the type and degree of expectations are much more different in the PhD level than bachelor level. Therefore, I could have had a hard time if I were left alone with some research tasks on the first day in the graduate school. In what follows, I will discuss the reason that I felt I should be very careful about my future advisor.

I have been told by many of my friends who were studying at graduate level that their advisers have narrowed down their responsibility to funding and the rest is expectations. I know this is not the case for all faculty members, but in my case, for a student who have had no research experience, leaving the student alone with a burden of tasks could have been catastrophic. This has been a spark in my mind to picture myself as a future advisor. More specifically, how do I want my relationship to be with my students?

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Firstly, we all know that we cannot treat everybody the same. In the case of advisors, they have to deal with students with many different backgrounds and personalities. But as a main theme, I prefer to be a type of advisor who keeps the students close and my expectations are not restricted to technical ones. Although it may sound a bit ideal (or impractical) at the first glance, I have reasons to justify my claim. My first reason is that I want my students not to feel scared about a problem they face. The problem can be either in their daily lives or in the path toward their degrees. In this article, I am going to address the role of a perfect advisor in addressing the problems in students’ daily lives.

First and foremost, if my student is suffering from an issue in his/her personal life, this indirectly affect my plans as a faculty member, too; this will turn into my problem if my students are not making progress in their researches. It is my problem, too, if my students are missing the deadlines and do not satisfy our sponsors. Thus, not only as a human being’s duty, but also because of my own interest, I should help them as a friend to overcome their concerns. If I am not a friend of my students, I will only see reflections of their challenges in our research’s unsuccessfulness. But, if my advisees see me as a person who cares about them and tries to help them, I will be more like a true advisor and not a commander…

(To be continued…)

 

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