The Graduate School requires that all students have an advisor. You were assigned an advisor when you were admitted into the program. Whenever possible, the admissions committee first shared your application with the faculty members you requested and/or to the faculty they felt shared your interests. The advisor you were assigned to is someone who agreed to accept and mentor you in the program. They will help you determine your course schedule and serve as the Chair of your thesis/dissertation committee. While working on your thesis or dissertation, you will also sign up to take research and thesis credits (HDFS 990) with this advisor.
You and your advisor share responsibility for working out the best plan of action for your graduate work here, working within the department’s stipulated requirements. Your advisor is there to assist you in all aspects of the planning of your graduate program, such as helping you select appropriate courses, introducing you to campus resources, suggesting other faculty you may want to get to know and invite to join your committee, and reviewing and guiding the development of a research plan. The advisor is also responsible for monitoring your performance and providing you with appropriate feedback.
You should plan to meet with your advisor several times during each semester. Don’t wait for your advisor to contact you, make an appointment whenever you need advice or guidance. A useful first meeting may include establishing a plan for the two of you to work together—for example, you may want to decide whether to schedule regular meetings or whether you will initiate the meeting.
Advisor and Student Advising Difficulties
Advisors should set clear expectations for themselves and their advisees, and then provide regular, documented feedback to advisees. As with any other work relationship, however, advisors and advisees may have difficulties with one another sometimes. The first priority is to engage in a constructive process of modifying or repairing the relationship. If the standard process of expectation-setting and feedback provision is not adequate, the advisor and/or advisee should seek guidance from the GPC Chair in strengthening the relationship or advising best practices.
At times, an advisor may feel that a relationship with an advisee is not mutually beneficial. Under such circumstances, the advisor will take the lead in working with the GPC Chair and the advisee to find a new advisor for the student. If the advisor is the GPC Chair, another member of the GPC will serve in the Chair’s role for this process. The student will then need to have the Advisor and Committee Form completed to officially change advisors.
Faculty recognize that the interests of students can change, so changing advisors is encouraged when it supports your individual development. Many students end up changing advisors. However, the advisor you are initially assigned to is the only faculty member who has made a commitment to work with and supervise you. If you want to switch to a new advisor, it is your responsibility to find someone who is willing to work with you. Talk to both your current advisor and the faculty member you wish to become your new advisor to get their mutual consent before making the official change. Graduate students should cordially work with their original advisor to make these switches whenever possible. If you need help on how to make the switch graciously and comfortably, ask your new advisor or the GPC Chair to help facilitate these changes.
To make the change official, you need to inform the SoHE Graduate Program Office and the change needs to be recorded in your student record. The Advisor and Committee Form should be used for this purpose. Signatures will be required of you and both your current and new advisors. The form is submitted to the SoHE Graduate Program Office.