Responsibilities of Graduate Students in the Advising Relationship

Like faculty, graduate students will approach the advising relationship with a variety of needs and expectations, but all graduate students should recognize that in the end they are responsible for their own education and for their development as scholars and teachers. In most instances, good advising from faculty depends on the willingness of graduate students to initiate and keep open channels of communication, to identify key issues and questions, and to weigh proffered advice with an open mind.

In particular, graduate students:

  • should become familiar with the basic rules of the program by reading the graduate student handbook and by asking either their advisors or the DGS to clarify any bureaucratic ambiguities. You are responsible for knowing the correct rules even if they have been misinformed on a particular issue by a faculty member.
  • have the responsibility to exercise substantial care and thought when selecting an advisor. This selection is a crucial decision, and students should give it the time and attention it deserves. You, for example, should ask for clarity about a potential advisor's expectations and style of advising.
  • have the obligation to keep in regular touch with their primary advisor, making him/her aware of their progress, of any pressing or looming decisions, and of any emerging difficulties or problems in their course of study. Uninformed advisors cannot give sensible or timely advice. On occasion, the desire for privacy leads some graduate students not to inform an advisor about personal circumstances that are impeding their academic progress; when those circumstances are clearly going to have a substantial impact on the your ability to meet programmatic requirements and expectations; you owes a confidential explanation to the advisor.
  • owe your advisors respect and candor in all communications, verbal and written, and should respect your advisors' privacy.
  • have the obligation to give your advisors reasonable notice of upcoming deadlines for letters of recommendation.
  • should take care that any particular arrangement or agreement with the DGS that diverges from ordinary departmental rules and regulations be put in writing. Occasionally, individual circumstances lead the DGS to make an exception from standard policy. If such exceptions have a clear paper trail, your can avoid any complications arising when a new faculty member, not privy to the earlier agreement, becomes DGS.
  • do not owe your advisors any work outside the formal, paid roles of research assistant or teaching assistant.