That is a definate maybe

Got a letter from a student today:

Dear Dr. WiseWoman,

thank you for all the information you gave me about the bachelor's thesis yesterday.

I had asked other professors if they had interesting topics, but they didn't answer my emails, so I committed to doing my thesis with you. But today Dr. X finally answered his emails. He doesn't have time until next week to meet with me.

I know that I promised to do the topic "Advanced Indecisiveness" with you. And this decision stands. I just wanted to let you know that I may change advisors, after speaking with Dr. X next week.

I am sorry about this, but after all it is my Bachelor's thesis and I want to choose a topic that is best for me and my professional career. I hope you understand.

Stu Dent

My answer:

Dear Stu,

Hmm. I am confused.

Is this like: yes, I will come to your party, unless there is a better one that I get invited to before then?

Choosing your adviser and your topic is a very important task, and you had 5 semesters to do so. I only take a few students so that I can advise you properly. If you switch at the last minute, I may have told someone else "no" who could now work with me.

This is not about you choosing which pancakes to have for breakfast. I also get paid by the amount of people I advise. If you drop out at the last minute, I have to teach an additional class next semester to make up the difference.

I offer topics in which I feel that I am qualified to advise you. If you are not interested in my topics, then you should say so. After all, after you committed I contacted the third party interested in this topic, introducing you to each other. How do I explain to them that you now want to do something else? Scared off in a day?

I feel like the host trying to plan for a party, but with so many maybes doesn't know how much food and drink to offer. Why didn't you tell Dr. X: Sorry, I have already committed to write with Dr. WiseWoman? What would Miss Manners think?

So no, I don't understand.

Dr. WiseWoman

Now, this is the second student in two days to send me letters like this. I guess they all finally got emails from colleague X. I've been teaching at university since 1993, this happened with one student last semester and two this semester (to date). I find it very strange - is this just the "me" generation, or am I getting too old and crochety?


brainerror said...

That's because your bitching abilities are legendary by now ;)

And yeah, that's told in many a students tales %)

"What, WW's your advisor? Are u nuts? She's very demanding and accurate, furthermore her bitching and her plagiarism crusade. Better get someone else!"

WiseWoman said...

Oh definitely, I warn everyone that I am a demanding bitch. I clearly state so on my web page.

But those who dare learn something. They learn how to write scientifically with me. And they get done on time. And can be proud of their results.

This is known in advance, so the question is: why do they even ask?

Okay, my rather bitchy emails back have been successful. Stu apologized and asked for relevant literature. That's a great step forward. The other student didn't exactly apologize (I know, this is hard), but made some sensible noises, so we are on the right track.

Just costs so much energy.

Chris B said...

"I know that I promised to do the topic "Advanced Indecisiveness" with you. And this decision stands. I just wanted to let you know that I may change advisors, after speaking with Dr. X next week."

I just have to say that this is got to be one of the funniest statements. Not knowing the parties involved I have found it to be quite hilarious. Maybe this student Stu was actually getting in depth into his/her word by living the thesis "Advanced Indecisiveness", sort of a character portrayal to elicit a response so that he/she can judge the effect of indecisiveness. I have got to say the response email would have provided a good start for a thesis on the subject :)