January 29, 2016

Choosing a Supervisor

Some graduate students will choose to work with someone specifically as an adviser because of their research expertise when they come into UVic. However, pool students will have the opportunity to arrive and get to know the advisers who are willing to takes students a bit better before they make their decision.  Keep in mind you could still get a Masters and choose to switch to a different adviser that better suites you, but in general they are someone you’d be willing to be with you’re whole time here.


What is a pool student

If you’re a pool student, it means that you’ve been accepted into the program without a pre-assigned supervisor.  All pool students are assigned a provisional supervisor; this is someone that has agreed to do some of the supervisory things that you’ll need as you get set up.  They are also, of course, looking for a student.  Provisional supervisors are not randomly assigned, so your provisional supervisor was likely interested in you as a potential student.


What do I do as a pool student?

The number one thing to do as a pool student is to talk to as many people as possible!

Email the faculty members who are looking for new students to set up a meeting with them.  This may seem intimidating, but professors will happily set aside time to discuss their research and their ideas for potential projects for you to work on.  Even if you think you know what field you’re leaning towards, make sure to talk to people outside that field as well – you may find that someone you may not have thought of has a really cool project that you’d like to work on.

Some faculty members will be more proactive about trying to gather the pool students and talk to them than others.  This is just a difference in approach!  Faculty who are looking for students but who don’t send emails are just as interested in talking to you.

If someone you are interested in working with has other students, make sure to talk to the students about their work style.  Some faculty members are much more hands-on supervisors than others, and different people work best with different styles; the students can fill you in on how things generally operate with them as a supervisor.


Astronomy: If they are at HIA, and you’re feeling stranded at UVic, either ask around for someone to drive you up, catch the bus, or if you really can’t make it up, HIA people sometimes drop down to UVic – you can ask if they’re going to be around campus at some point.


How quickly should I decide?

Generally, pool students decide upon their supervisor within the first semester of arriving.  Setting up meetings with people can be somewhat time consuming, and there are a lot of other things that need to happen right away, but it is somewhat easier if you start thinking about this before the semester really ramps up and you start getting busy with coursework on top of everything else.  Most pool students have settled on a supervisor by the end of October or thereabouts.  Do make sure to give yourself enough time to think the decision through, whatever timeline you’re working on.