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How often to meet with committee members?

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In our newest “how can we help you?” thread, a grad student writes:

I don’t meet a lot with my committee members and they’re quite hands-off but I know some people that meet theirs very regularly. I feel like I’m falling behind a lot, and I want to meet them more but I’m slow at putting out work to show them. So I’m wondering how often did you meet with your supervisor and other committee members, and how often do those on committees want us to meet?

This is an excellent question, and I’m curious what readers’ answers are. Although it’s obviously been a while since I’ve been in grad school, my sense is that one of the most serious and common errors that grad students make is to avoid meeting consistently enough with their committee members, or at least with their dissertation supervisor. Let me explain.

At one point, I myself sort of avoided my committee members for about a year-and-a-half, mostly because I was self-conscious and lacked confidence in my work. I mean, I saw them from time to time, but I would also avoid them for long-stretches. My committee members were largely hands-off too, and I sort of liked it because I always fancied myself an independent worker. However, this was all a huge error on my part, because in retrospect I really could have used their support and direction. Luckily, I learned the error of my ways before it was too late and joined a dissertation chapter-draft discussion group that my dissertation supervisor organized, and after that met with him consistently about once a week–which is when my dissertation finally started getting moving. I saw other grad students do similar things. Generally speaking, it seemed to me that students who disengaged from their committee members tended to have trouble finishing their dissertations, whereas those who met with them consistently tended to make good progress.

But again, these are just my experiences. What are yours? How often do/did you meet with your committee members? How well did your approach work? And how often do/did your committees “want to you meet”?

Originally appeared on The Philosophers’ Cocoon Read More

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