I started in my *physical science* PhD program a couple of weeks ago, and I am really concerned about both the program and my potential advisor.
Since I have arrived, I have heard nothing but negative things about competition within the department. Professors do not collaborate at all, and faculty have even been fired over petty squabbles. Coming from my old school, which was much smaller and more low key, this is a huge surprise for me. I am worried that this environment will translate to the student level.
As for the advisor, she has been at conferences for much of the past month, and the current students in the lab have described her as a poor mentor and unwilling to listen to her students. A lot of the older graduate students were really successful in terms of publications, but the newer graduate students have struggled quite a lot. There is also a huge divide between international students and domestic students in the lab. While I have a couple of other potential advisors at this school, I was by far the most excited about this one. I found her work to be a perfect fit, and this advisor was also the deciding factor between my second choice school.
I know that graduate school visits are a sales pitch, but I feel blindsided by a lot of this, since all of the students I talked to during the visit had nothing but positive things to say. I guess my question is whether I should be panicked about these revelations? Is there any way I can be proactive about these issues and come up with a contingency plan if needed?