Writing and Presenting Your
Thesis or Dissertation
S. Joseph Levine, Ph.D.
Michigan State University
East Lansing, Michigan USA
Note #17 Help - My advisor doesn't like me!
Sometimes I hear, "My advisor is too busy to see me." Or, "My advisor does not give me
any feedback on my work." Or, "I donít understand what my advisor has told me and he hasn't taken the time to clarify." These
comments seem to all come back to the same feeling on the part of the graduate student, "My
advisor doesnít like me!" I hear this concern more than any other concern when I speak with a
graduate student who is worried about his/her thesis or dissertation.
And, the worst thing for me - this is a concern that I am least able to deal with. I canít help.
I am usually able to help when the graduate student asks me about how to do sampling, how to
prepare a good thesis proposal, how to organize a literature review, or what to do during the
defense. However, when it comes to having a negative feeling about the advisor my hands are
tied. I am not able to help and I donít feel good about it.
Inside I want to say to the student, "Get rid of your advisor and get a better one!" But I know
that will not help. Or worse yet, sometimes I want to say, "You should never have picked that
advisor at the beginning." But I know that sometimes the graduate student does not have such
a choice. What a shame.
This is such an important time in the development of your professional life. Certainly you
should have the opportunity and responsibility for making the decision of who should be your
academic advisor. You will soon be a professional making all sorts of important decisions, why
are you not allowed to make them now?
Aha - I think you are seeing my frustration!
Plus, what is the advisor telling you through his or her behavior? Often the advisor is saying
through his/her actions, "See how I ignore you. This is what you must do when you are a
professor!" That is a terrible message (and I hope you never learn it.)
So what to do?
I would like to ask for your ideas and suggestions.
* What have you done to improve this situation?
* How have you encouraged your advisor to become more concerned about you?
* Are there some specific things you have done which have improved the situation between you and your advisor?
* Where have you gone for help?
* Who has been most helpful to you?
* If your advisor is a "roadblock", how have you managed to move ahead?
Take a short break from the preparation of your thesis or dissertation and share your thinking with other graduate students. You can do it easily on our Facebook page.
I look forward to hearing from you.
As always -
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Writing and Presenting Your Thesis or Dissertation