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The Relationship between Advisors/Mentors and their Advisees

The heart of our graduate education and training and research work is a healthy relationship between advisors and advisees. We see this ideally as a mentorship process with mutual obligations.

Goals

  • Professional academic training
  • Socialization to the academic enterprise
  • Pursuit of excellence in mutual projects
  • Open dialogue regarding expectations of the relationship
  • Support and compassion in the relationship
  • Confidentiality and trust
  • Recognition of each other's needs, goals, and time constraints

Norms

  • Advisors should:
    • discuss the objectives and expectations of the relationship
    • support student efforts to become involved in research projects immediately
    • recognize that they are role models for students
    • guide students rather than control them
    • be an advocate for their students
    • recognize students' particular goals and needs
    • have regular meetings every semester with students
    • give students regular and timely feedback on their work
    • monitor and assist students in making progress toward the degree
    • encourage students to express themselves in the relationship
    • be sensitive to the power differential in the relationship
  • Advisees should:
    • discuss the objectives and expectations of the relationship
    • keep adviser up to date about their own progress
    • be motivated to become involved in research early and seek out opportunities pro-actively
    • recognize that adviser has many other professional commitments
    • seek mentoring and support from other faculty in addition to the adviser
    • recognize that academic commitment and hard work are fundamental to a positive advising relationship
    • feel comfortable changing advisors at any time
    • review advising options at the time of major benchmarks in the program (e.g. after A-exams)

Situations that May Signal a Problem

  • Participants perceiving that academic freedom and personal choice are limited in the advising relationship
  • Participants experiencing retaliation in the advising relationship
  • Participants feeling their privacy is invaded in the advising relationship
  • Participants feeling frightened or threatened in the advising relationship
  • Participants feeling like they are being taken advantage of in the advising relationship
  • Participants having difficulty contacting and/or meeting with each other
  • Participants allowing personal lives to overlap into and jeopardize professional relationship
  • Advisors involving advisees in departmental conflicts
  • Advisors using the allocation of resources to control advisees