What might have been.

Mar 27, 2015 • Arliss Collins

My demotivational story relates to my fourth year thesis in geophysical engineering and the relationship I had with my advisor. I had been looking forward to this point in my undergraduate program for a while. It would be the opportunity to work closely with an expert in my specific area of interest. My adviser was very well-known in his field and his research was cutting edge.

In September we met to discuss my thesis topic and ideas on how to approach the work. Great start! Great meeting! Exactly what I had been envisioning. I was motivated and raring to go. That would be the last time we met until well after reading week. It was very difficult to get an appointment with my advisor as he was frequently away from the university, guest lecturing or fieldwork. I kept plugging away but the questions were piling up. When we did finally meet he was in a rush and distracted. My updates were dismissed with a curt “sounds good”, answers to my questions were ambiguous and there was no input on next steps or what areas needed more work. He tried to show interest but I got the distinct feeling that my work was trivial and that he was just advising out of obligation. Our third and final meeting was shortly before end of the academic year and at that point both he and I were frustrated on the progress of the work. I submitted my thesis last week of term and walked away… fingers crossed.

What might have been done differently to improve the situation? I guess some basic scheduling discussion at our first meeting would have been useful.