Advice you may give students

Be visible

Help your students understand the importance of being visible in department life — that office and hallway conversations build and maintain relationships, as well as help people glean vital information. If students have a departmental office, encourage them to use it as much as possible. Help them find ways to be visible, such as getting involved in gatherings or coordinating events.

Taking yourself seriously

Graduate students need to see themselves as potential colleagues. Talk to your students about professional activities that build career potential, including participating in departmental activities, joining professional associations, networking at conferences or campus events and seeking opportunities to present projects.

Be responsible

Students should understand the value of “owning” their educations, which includes developing a vision of the future and attending to everyday details, such as being prompt for meetings, preparing agendas and updating mentors about their progress and plans.

Receive criticism in a professional manner

Students need to accept constructive criticism of their work in a professional manner. Accepting criticism does not mean agreeing with everything that is said, but rather reflects a willingness to consider other points of view. Students should defend their ideas in a professional manner.

Comment on advice

Sharing different opinions is a mark of collegiality and growth. For example, ask students for their reactions to books or articles you have suggested. You can also ask students whether your advice is useful. Sometimes not taking your advice can be a sign that your mentees are thinking on their own — and a sign of growth.


Questioning is often what helps academic disciplines evolve. Sometimes students find that their perspectives or intellectual interests do not fit neatly into the current academic canons. For instance, interest in interdisciplinary questions and in the social applications of knowledge is growing, but many students find that the structure of their department makes it difficult for them to pursue research and teaching questions across disciplinary boundaries. Productive scholarly environments value new ways of thinking and encourage students to explore, and possibly challenge, different models of inquiry.

Listen to students’ experiences and perspectives, and ask them to share scholarly articles or essays that illustrate the work they would like to do. Identify content that is traditionally excluded or marginalized in your field and expand the boundaries of your discipline by addressing it.

Foster ongoing departmental discussions on how disciplinary and interdisciplinary theory and methodology are changing because of the inclusion of more diverse content, approaches and perspectives.