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Need Some Advice

bethsmilesbethsmiles Denver, CO member
10000 Comments Sixth Anniversary 500 Love Its First Answer
I'm graduating from my masters program this spring (yay!). I've finished my written comprehensive exams and I'll do my orals in two weeks, which I'm not too worried about. The only class I have this semester is a directed study which is moving along pretty well. I specifically only took one class this semester so that I would have time to work on my thesis.

In December I e-mailed my thesis adviser the first three chapters of it. She didn't get back to me with edits until two weeks ago, and that was only on chapters one and two. And two weeks ago is when she first picked up to read it. I know that because when I went to her office to pick up the edits at the time she said she would have them done, she had just started. She was supposed to give me her edits for chapter 3 before I left for spring break. But of course she didn't. She hasn't even looked at my revision that took into account the edits she did give me. I had to re-send them to her because she lost it. And I still don't have edits for chapter 3, which I've now asked for 3 times.

Before I can move on from these first chapters I have to have a meeting with everyone on my thesis committee. But I can only do that once my adviser gives me the green light. But of course she won't look at any of work! I'm so frustrated and stressed. I've essentially done nothing on my thesis since December because she refuses to make this any sort of priority. I've already had to push back the deadline for my thesis which means I won't get my diploma in the spring, I'll get it in the summer (but I can still walk May).

I'm not a very confrontational person but I feel like I have to say something. Because despite the fact that I've sent her e-mails asking for drafts and e-mails discussing my timeline for finishing this project she still doesn't seem to get that she is holding up the entire process. So I guess what I'm asking is what's an appropriate yet still forceful way to say "I need you to fucking get it together because this is absolutely fucking ridiculous" Honestly, I wish she just would've said no to being my adviser if she didn't want to do it because then I could've asked someone else but now I can't and I'm screwed. I'm honestly considering just throwing out everything I've done and switching to a non-thesis option (which I have enough credits to do). It would suck because I'm actually incredibly passionate about my thesis but she's made it so much more stressful than it needs to be and I've started to hate even thinking about it.


Re: Need Some Advice

  • I would walk straight into her office and say that you've been very patient but now she is messing with your graduating and that's jut not acceptable. Let her know you've followed every time change she has asked for, but it's getting ridiculous.
    CLoGreenEyesKeptInStitches[Deleted User]HisGirlFriday13
  • Also i think that sucks ass and I'm very sorry she is making you crazy
  • SwazzleSwazzle New Jersey member
    10000 Comments Seventh Anniversary 500 Love Its First Answer
    That is so shitty, @bethsmiles. I don't have a ton of advice because I'm terrible at this sort of thing but I definitely thing you need to have a serious conversation (in person) with her about how she's basically fucking you over right now. It should not take THREE MONTHS to read 3 chapters. That is insane.

    HUGS.



  • I think @IrishDreamer has it: just sit down with her face to face and be like, "I've tried to be very patient and understanding, but you have not been meeting the dates we agreed on for you to review my thesis. I have actually had to push my deadline to the point where I will be graduating in the summer instead of spring because of this, and I'm very frustrated that I've been working this hard and not getting the feedback you said you would give me. I need you to review my work in a more timely manner, because I don't want to have to push my graduation again." Or something; just assertive communication, the effects her actions are having on you, and what you want her to do about it, blah blah blah.

    Ugh, it sucks that you have to deal with this. Good luck!

  • KeptInStitchesKeptInStitches the Northern Plains member
    5000 Comments 500 Love Its Fourth Anniversary 5 Answers
    Congratulations, Beth! 

    I'd arrange to have a meeting with her and explain that her lack of timeliness has messed up her graduation plans. Perhaps this would be worth arranging for regular meetings to talk about what she sees in your thesis? That way she might be more likely to do the edits and get you the feedback you need. I don't know how busy she is, but maybe she could meet with you once a week or once every couple of weeks.
    CLoGreenEyes
  • Also if she still sucks, see if she would be okay with you reaching out to someone else in your committee. And I would keep giving her other chapters. My PI didnt give me back half my thesis until she had the whole thing and I was sitting there doing nothing lol.

    PIs are not awesome. I can't wait till you have a real boss with a real job :)
    I guess, to tell you the truth, I've never had much of a desire to grow facial hair. I think I've managed to play quarterback just fine without a mustache. - Peyton
  • Dignity100Dignity100 Northeastern Ohio member
    2500 Comments 500 Love Its First Anniversary First Answer
    I would make an appointment with her once a week (maybe twice) and stay on her case!  Even if you're sitting in her office while she's reading/editing for an hour a week- at least you know an hour of it has been done.  If she really pissed me off I'd probably ask her if she's prepared to pay for another semester of my schooling because she's what is standing between me and graduating.

    Going to school is a like a job - you're job is to learn, her's is to teach and advise.  If you have a manager in 'the real world' that you continue to take issues to and s/he doesn't listen - you jump up to the next level and go to his/her manager.  What's to stop you from taking your chapters to the dean and explaining your situation saying that your adviser is not doing her job and you really need to make some progress.


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  • I would make an appointment with her once a week (maybe twice) and stay on her case!  Even if you're sitting in her office while she's reading/editing for an hour a week- at least you know an hour of it has been done.  If she really pissed me off I'd probably ask her if she's prepared to pay for another semester of my schooling because she's what is standing between me and graduating.

    Going to school is a like a job - you're job is to learn, her's is to teach and advise.  If you have a manager in 'the real world' that you continue to take issues to and s/he doesn't listen - you jump up to the next level and go to his/her manager.  What's to stop you from taking your chapters to the dean and explaining your situation saying that your adviser is not doing her job and you really need to make some progress.
    I was going to suggest this and this. You have to be delicate about going above her head, though. Express that you are nervous you won't have time to finish your research and write the paper if you don't have the edits by X date. Then follow up with an email saying 'thank you for agreeing to have the edits back to me by X date'. If they aren't done by X date, take it to their supervisor.
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  • phiraphira Bahstin member
    5000 Comments 500 Love Its Second Anniversary 5 Answers
    I absolutely agree with everyone else. I feel like there's this unspoken rule where you're not allowed to hold superiors accountable for anything. Hell, I've been trying to schedule my first committee meeting, and it's been nearly impossible for me to get up the courage to re-email faculty members who never responded the first time. It's so stupid--I shouldn't be so afraid, but I am.

    So yeah. I think it's time to be blunt and/or go over her head.

    Blunt: Organize a timeline of all the emails you've exchanged. When did you email her? What documents were attached? What was her reply? When did you receive revisions? What revisions did you receive?

    Schedule a meeting with her. Politely but unapologetically explain to her that you need her revisions on the first three chapters done by [date]. I'd give her no more than 2 weeks, but preferably a week (let's be honest; it doesn't even take a week). Remind her that you cannot set up your committee meeting until those chapters are done, and that you have been waiting since [date] for the revisions.

    Regardless of the excuses or comments, just keep sticking to the facts: You need revisions done before you can schedule the meeting, you have been waiting since [date], and that you would like to have them done by [date] so you can schedule the committee meeting.

    I recommend scheduling something for 20-30 minutes after your meeting so that you have an excuse to leave. If you find yourself starting to cry in frustration, pressing your tongue to the roof of your mouth works pretty well.

    Over her head: Do the same prep work as before: document all of the emails and deadlines. Then, either contact your advisor's superior, and/or contact your committee. Explain the situation: You have been waiting for revisions since [date], advisor keeps delaying revisions, you have already had to push your graduation date back, and you are hoping that either someone else can do the revisions, or that you might be able to schedule the committee meeting anyway.

    Finally, SELF-CARE. Grad school is THE WORST OMG.
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  • bethsmilesbethsmiles Denver, CO member
    10000 Comments Sixth Anniversary 500 Love Its First Answer
    Thanks for all the advice! I know all of you are right and I just need to have a blunt/honest conversation with her about it. And weekly meetings is probably a good idea too, then she might at least remember to do something each week. I think I might reach out to my other committee members too.

    I am feeling less upset about it today, even just venting helps but on Monday I'll definitely have a talk with her.


    SwazzleKeptInStitchesphiraDignity100
  • I advocate going over her head to her department head or whomever.

    Take in a time line of everything you sent her and when and outline how this is screwing up your graduation plans and you need her to either get with the programme or switch you to another advisor.

    Alternatively, email her and say, 'I'll be in X day to pick up the edits, thanks.' If you tell her when you'll be there, it's on her.

    I'm so sorry -- that sucks. My undergrad advisor was like that and I finally went over his head to the department head and was like, 'I need to get this done for my degree. This isn't working for me. What do you propose?' I got a new advisor, and I graduated on time.
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    I'm gonna go with 'not my circus, not my monkeys.'
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