The art of supervision: a candidate’s perspective

I have been feeling very teary of late regarding my PhD. I have hit that wall everyone seems to hit in their final year: I am lost, I have no idea what I am doing, my study is crap, and I’m a terrible writer. One of the problems I have faced is getting to see my supervisor more than once every six months. Finally, a few weeks ago, I snapped. I wrote to my supervisor, after she had returned my corrected work to me with many many notes (luckily, it’s black scribble, not red) and revealed that I have been feeling very depressed about my work.

Well. That changed a few things. Yesterday I had an appointment with my supervisor that lasted 90 minutes. I went in, quietly, and she asked me “what’s happening with this?” I talked, she listened, and she heard. I didn’t cry. Without saying a word about my pain and fear and anger and procrastination and need, she immediately went straight into strategies for remedying my immediate problem. Which was what I most appreciated about the session. Solutions, resolutions and goal setting. I see her in five weeks (unfortunately our schedules don’t gel well) and I have three main things to prepare for her.

Can I have more of that, please?

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