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First Meeting With Advisor

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I've recently been accepted to my preferred school, and while I couldn't be more excited about the good news, I am now faced with something else to worry about! I'm neurotic by nature, so I can't help the needless worrying, but as I have also been out of school for several years now, I feel at least a little bit justified in it ;)


So, since I will be traveling to the city where the university is located anyway on an unrelated trip, I contacted my advisor and asked if he'd like to meet. Though I'm happy/grateful that he agreed, I am now faced with a few questions regarding said meeting and would appreciate any advice or feedback from the community here. For instance, how formally should I dress for this meeting? I've already been accepted and this is not a formal visit organized by the university for graduate students in general. Rather, I will be meeting my advisor and the plan is for him to show me some of the more relevant-to-my-program parts of the campus before sitting down to chat at a café. Would nice, dark denim, a blouse, blazer, and ballet flats be way too informal? Should I maybe wear trousers and a blouse or sweater instead? Or maybe a dress and cardigan/blazer?


Now, with regards to substance, are there any specific questions that I should probably bring up during our chat? For instance, how grad students generally do/feel in the program? Questions about potential funding? Would it be considered vulgar to talk about money/funding/assistantships during this meeting?


I'd love to hear any feedback you all can offer! Thanks in advance :)

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Re: clothing, no need to be too formal. The denim, etc. outfit sounds great, and would work better for a trip that involves walking anyway.


Re: substance; First, you can definitely ask about money! Don't be shy ( now or in the future) -- it's OK to ask about money, it very directly affects your life and everybody understands that. You can ask your advisor how grad students generally feel in the program but keep in mind that as a professor he can't really tell you; instead you could ask more indirectly - e.g. has anyone recently quit without graduating (or: how many per cohort, if it's common in your field/department)? Are people generally on track for graduation as specified on the website or in the dept handbook, or are people often behind (e.g. in my program people tend to defend their papers *much* later than formally required, but they all manage to graduate on time)? If there are opportunities for research in the first year in addition to course requirements, how do people usually go about defining their first project? How long does it take people on average? Do most people continue working on these early projects in later years or do these small projects get abandoned later? When do people start attending conferences (when does your advisor recommend doing so)? How often does your advisor meet with his students? How are the teaching requirements structured? ... I'm sure you can find other questions to ask elsewhere on the forum. The best thing you can do is have a chat that flows and is comfortable, and see if your advisor provides you with relevant information and whether you need to ask leading questions. You don't need to have everything answered right now, in case you're having a good conversation but it goes off on a tangent--that's fine and even useful, so you know you two get along on a personal level.


Good luck!

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Thanks for your advice, particularly about the questions! I think he probably wants to suss me out as well to make sure I'm not a crazy so I'll probably just let the conversation unfold organically and squeeze in what questions I can :)

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Wear whatever you want, provided everything important is covered and you're comfortable. I wouldn't bother with a blazer unless that's part of your everyday style. Several years ago I had a similar first meeting with my advisor and I wore a casual summer skirt, a tank top, and comfortable sandals. It wasn't an issue in any way, shape, or form.


As fuzzy said, definitely ask about money if that's a concern of yours. You might also ask about courses/modules, their scheduling, and the expectations. Ask if there's any projects going on that you could be involved with. Be prepared to spend a few minutes discussing your research interests and how you might pursue them. 


Don't just wait for your burning questions to come up organically. If you have questions, you need to ask them. 

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