When your Advisor doesn’t Advise you


Yes. This fucking happens. Some professors could give one rat-fucking butt hair about your dissertation. They are out there to get what’s theirs, and will not have you getting in their way. Let me attempt to unpack this.


When you’re a Masters student, apparently Advisors could care less about what you do. You may think it’s ground-breaking, and saving lives, but to them, you are time away from their focus on their research or their PhD students. You see, when it comes to getting tenure as a professor, having PhD students who have graduated under you is needed and important. A Masters student doesn’t do this for them. So, their strategy is to spend as little time on you as possible and focus on things that actually contribute to getting tenure. Fucked up right?! Yup! But, that’s the way the system is set up. So, if you are a Masters student working on your thesis and your “advisor” is not giving you the time of day and attention that you feel you and your work need, REACH OUT TO OTHERS. Whether you are having this problem or not, it is never a good thing to limit your association, knowledge, views, and conversations with your advisor only. Others may say differently, BUT, you will soon learn that diversifying your circle helps you more than it can ever harm. And if your advisor isn’t doing his/ her job, latch on the person(s) who are helping you and be sure to give them the credit where it is due. Keep them in your circle along the way.


Your advisor must serve some purpose on your committee. Some purposes include:

  • Content
  • Theory/ Frameworks
  • Methodology
  • Context
  • Project collaborations
  • Connections
  • Great supporter in the ring
  • Knows how to tell distractors to fuck off

These should be things you consider for anyone on your committee.


I once had an advisor who I felt could have given me more feedback on my writing when I sent him/ her stuff. So, I found another professor who was wonderful enough and did a fantastic job at reading and commenting on my writing. Although my advisor I felt dropped the ball on this, when it came to presentations and my defense, it was like Rocky Balboa and Mickey Goldmill entering the ring in presentations. S/he gave me encouraging speeches before my presentation, had my back in every way, and asked me questions to inform my audience more. S/he was the best advisor I have had thus far. Such a G! So while she faltered on one aspect, she showed up in one of the biggest ways possible. One very important way for me.


Now, in the PhD process, things are more serious and you have more to lose, including your fucking mind and reputation. There are different types of advisors. It is important like I mentioned in previous posts that you attempt to be clear on what you need/ look for in an advisor. This person should be supportive and make this period the happiest time of your life, because doing a PhD and working on exactly what you want, making a contribution to causes that are important to you, is a very rewarding and fulfilling thing. You ought to be happy. If you are not, and a professor or your Advisor is the source of that unhappiness, it’s time to figure something out.


Here are some of the types of advisors you may come along:


  1. The I-am-not-responsible-for-that Advisor:


This Advisor is very hands off and covers his/ her ass leaving you to deal with everything on your own. Should it come to a debate in a presentation of your defense, s/he remains quiet, leaving you to fend for yourself, not ever saying or doing anything to allow you to get back on your feet or inform your committee that your work did not concern that area they brought up. S/he may even let others on your committee make you change your dissertation or the direction your work was going, or let them add stuff for you to do without stepping in to say, “No, we discussed this and it is not part of his/ her work.” S/he is the king/ queen of sending cover-your-ass emails which document their not being responsible for things you do. Beware of these manipulative fuckers!


  1. The You-gotta-teach-yourself Advisor:


This Advisor does not help you. They do not work with you, they do not recommend shit for you to read, they ain’t got time for your PhD-having ass. One colleague of mine told me that s/he asked his/her Advisor for content on a field in which the advisor claimed as their expertise. The Advisor told him/ her: “No, that’s your job to find the material you need. That’s the PhD process, you have to learn how to find what you need.” WTF?????????!!!!!!!!!! Are you fucking kidding me? Why the fuck are you this student’s Advisor then? You are actually choosing to not share knowledge with this person, when it’s your fucking job?!! In this case, I would reach out like a muthaf$@#& to other people in the field to ask for content. Fuck that dumbass advisor with their lying fuckery. And if anyone who does this is reading this blog post, fuck you and the evil Segway you rode in on.


  1. The I-will-make-sure-you-don’t-graduate Advisor:


This Advisor’s students rarely graduate. S/he is deliberately preventing his/ her students from graduating so that they will keep working in his/ her lab to further their own research. They usually have a lot of projects happening, racking up points for themselves in the research column, but could give not one fuck about your timeline, life, or career when it comes to graduating. Beware of this fucker! They are selfish and only seeking their interest. If someone has a reputation of their students not graduating, watch the fuck out! And if anyone who does this is reading this blog post, fuck you and your evil fucking toenails.


  1. The Come-baby-sit-my-kids Advisor:


The best relationship you can have with your advisor is one in which there are clear lines establishing that this is a professional relationship. Some professors are very chummy and invite you to meet their families, baby-sit their kids, and dogs. I’m telling you, this can get nasty. Keep your distance. There is a thin line between love and hate. I know of many instances where Advisors used their personal knowledge of their students in ways that damaged them emotionally, professionally, and psychologically. Remain professional with your Advisor. Set the boundary for him/ her and it will be the best thing you do. It’s your choice.


  1. The I-will-steal-your-work Advisor:


This Advisor or professor only wants to be around you so they can use your data, project, or ideas. They are closely related to the I-take-all-the-credit Advisor. They will steal your shit without your knowledge, or are brazen enough to tell you they will be using your shit. And guess what, you have little recourse. They more than likely have way more resources than you to get their name on your shit faster than you can get your name on your own shit. Beware! You have to man up (or woman up) and have clear documented conversations with these people. How is your work cited, which number author are you on that paper, who will be presenting the work, etc.? Else they will screw you. Again, they only care about getting theirs, and when the stress of tenure is coming down like the hammer of Thor on them, they will eat their own – YOU. If you are one of those professors reading this blog post, fuck you and the eye-crust you woke up with this morning.

I will leave you with some good news…

  1. The I-will-be-your-mentor Advisor:


This advisor, who may or may not be your advisor or even on your committee, is someone who really has your best interest at heart. They support you, support your work, and are always there to assist you. They recommend stuff that they come across for you, are eager to write you recommendation letters, and are a listening ear when you need one. This Advisor is priceless! Do not let him/ her get away. Treat them kindly and know that they are a gem in this dirty, shark-infested water of academia.

I can write a million posts on different types of Advisors, and I am sure I will write many more, so don’t worry.


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