March 22, 2011
Posted by edwardxwu
Always Prepare for the Worst.
Some of the greatest catastrophes in graduate education could have been avoided by a little intelligent foresight. Be cynical. Assume that your proposed research might not work, and that one of your faculty advisers might become unsupportive – or even hostile. Plan for alternatives.
Nobody cares about you.
In fact, some professors care about you and some don’t. Most probably do, but all are busy, which means in practice they cannot care about you because they don’t have the time. You are on your own, and you had better get used to it. This has a lot of implications. Here are two important ones:
1. You had better decide early on that you are in charge of your program. The degree you get is yours to create. Your major professor can advise you and protect you to a certain extent from bureaucratic and financial demons, but he should not tell you what to do. That is up to you. If you need advice, ask for it: that’s his job.
2. If you want to pick somebody’s brains, you’ll have to go to him or her, because they won’t be coming to you.