One of my favorite parts

of my job is dealing with PhD students. Here are my rules.

  1. I ask the students working with me to meet with me at least once every two weeks. Even if they haven’t got much done. But that schedule means that most of them are getting stuff done. I only starting doing the meeting thing in the last few years and it works for me.
  2. I try to provide honest feedback. If they are doing bad work, I tell them. If they are doing good work, I tell them. Most do good work.
  3. I try to build their self-confidence. Many really smart students forget that they are smart. But part of that is being clear about what is good and what is bad.
  4. I am all for tough requirements. If someone is not doing well at course work, early papers, and exams, then perhaps a PhD is not for them. You are not doing anyone a favor by keeping them around.
  5. I don’t believe in micromanaging. People find their own level—with encouragement.
  6. No changing topics, once the student has decided.
  7. I try to encourage students to work together. I think that peer group effects are important–I sure learned a lot as a student from my classmates.
  8. I encourage them to present their work to others–in informal talks and in more formal settings.
  9. I never to give students ideas to work on. I will help them refine their own ideas, though.
  10. I am not a good editor. But I will tell them when the exposition needs work.
  11. I try to remind them that once they get a job, they will have much less time than now. More generally, I try to give them some sense what it’s like to be a faculty member.

I’m sure there are more. But I’m tired now.


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