Who are Honors Advisors and how do I find them?
The honors advisor, or mentor, is the professor you work with while finding a site for your off-campus study and completing your thesis.
Your honors advisor, or mentor, in your major may be any professor in the school or department who is willing to work with you. In order to find an honors advisor, it is helpful to consult with the honors representative in your department or school.
Honors Representatives are professors selected to represent the honors program for each individual department or school. One honors representative represents each major. Honors representatives can help the student to understand the requirements of the honors program in a particular department, and may also provide guidance in the off-campus study project and thesis.
You should also use the following strategies to find an advisor in the department:
- Try to work with or take courses with, or do an honors election with several members of the department before requesting a professor to act as your advisor.
- Professors in each department and school have specific areas of specialization. You may need to work with a specific professor because of the area of study you have chosen for your off-campus experience.
- Remember: this is volunteer work on the part of the professor. Be sure to thank the professor for his or her time and trouble in working with you.
- Make sure you understand the work requirements and the teaching methods of the instructor, and are clear about the kinds of demands the instructor gives in classes so that there are no misunderstandings about your quality of work.
- Remember that you will be working with the advisor over a period of nearly two years and sometimes more. This professor can be your best friend!
- Check with your advisor frequently; set up regular appointments to keep the advisor current about your progress and goals. Bring material with you to the meetings, and take notes. DO NOT OMIT THIS STEP. You must keep your advisor current at all times.
What are your responsibilities when working with an advisor?
- The “Independent” study course on research methods which is common to all honors programs indicates in the word “independent” that you are expected to take the initiative. You need to find times that work for the advisor. You must make sure that you talk to, consult with, and work with the advisor. This is your responsibility, not the advisor’s.
- Although advisors will guide you, and give you feedback, and may sometimes be in a position to find material, connections, university sites etc., this project involves your taking charge of your own life and your own off-campus project. You need to show the professor that you have the maturity to work independently without urging and coaxing.
- The reason why this project is so valued upon graduation is that is proves your independence, your initiative, and your maturity as a student who can develop a project, complete it, and then write a report, followed by a thesis. The rewards are great, but the responsibility and required independence are also great.
What are the best strategies for working with an advisor?
The following strategies will help you to develop a positive and helpful relationship with your advisor, an absolute necessity for independent study work.
A. Keep consistent contact with your advisor
- You must meet with your advisor at a regularly arranged time, every two weeks for one half hour to one hour until the thesis is finished. This is a key to success.
- You must communicate effectively with your advisor, and demonstrate that you are working independently by taking the initiative at all times to complete parts of the work.
- You must also set a realistic schedule with due dates and provide it to your advisor to indicate how you plan to complete this work. The schedule should be flexible to allow for unexpected challenges or obstacles along the way.
B. Remember that your advisor is a volunteer
- Thank your advisor each time you work with him or her. This is volunteer work for which the advisor does not get paid. The advisor does this task out of a commitment to education, and to seeing you develop as a researcher, and is making time for you in a very busy schedule.
- Always keep in mind that he or she is doing you a special favor by agreeing to work with you one on one.
C. Prepare for your meetings with your advisor
- Be sure to have thoughtful questions prepared concerning the research and any additional research sources.
- Prepare a written record of your progress, or a rough draft of your work to present to the advisor in order to demonstrate that you are working consistantly.
- Keep the advisor informed of every step of your work and get feedback on the direction you are taking in order to make sure that your work is satisfactory, and that you are not omitting important information.
- As you complete chapters or sections of the work, present them to the advisor either hard copy or electronically.
- BACK UP ALL YOUR FILES in at least two different places. Your jump drive may betray you at any time! All files pertaining to your thesis should always be backed up in multiple locations, including the homedrive.
D. Do not waste your advisor’s and your own time
- Prepare before appointments with your advisor by writing down questions, comments, and areas where revision may be necessary. Present a typed copy to the advisor if necessary. Do not ever submit handwritten work.
- Ask the advisor if he or she has the time to read and respond to your new material before your next meeting.
- Be prepared to work around an advisor’s busy schedule. Remember that mid-term and the beginning and end of the semester are extremely busy times for professors, just as they are for you.
- Don’t suddenly hand a long draft to an advisor at a busy time unless the advisor has given you permission to do so.
- Keep track of the advisor’s times of absence, such as sabbaticals, to make sure that you complete your work in a timely way, and don’t have an advisor who is off-campus and unavailable for long periods of time just when you planned to finish your thesis.
E. Keep a record of your advisor’s comments and take them seriously
- Make notes during your conversations about the thesis, as if you were attending a lecture.
- Briefly go through the notes before you leave the professor’s office. Go over the material point by point (briefly) and ask if you have omitted anything.
- Keep track of any books or articles that the professor recommends. Make sure you have the correct spelling of the authors' names and titles of work.
- Read the recommended material carefully and make notes, summaries, and comments. This material will form an important part of the thesis.
- Include the recommended material in your thesis. If you have problems incorporating the material, ask for help. The professor will except to see this material.
- Keep a writen record of the professor's comments, and make a check list indicating that you have followed the instructions and read the suggested material.
F. Be prepared to accept criticism and make substantial revisions
- Avoid problems by troubleshooting ahead of time. The purpose of your meetings is that you have no sudden setbacks or unpleasant surprises after completing large portions of your thesis. If you do not consult with your advisor, you may discover that you have gone in a direction that does not conform to the research requirements of your discipline, or you may find that you have failed to deal with an important aspect of the research.
- Never hand in substantial parts of the work that the advisor has not previously seen. If you do, it will take a considerable amount of time for the advisor to get back to you. Furthermore, you may discover that you will have to re-do the research, or even start over in order to develop acceptable work.
- Remember that the advisor will assign the grade for HON 495 and 496 or its equivalent and that you must complete the work to the advisor’s satisfaction. The advisor is an expert in the field, and will provide invaluable guidance in completing this work.
- Ask yourself what grade you would assign yourself if you were the advisor based on your consultation with and close work with the advisor. Have you appeared consistently for appointments, or have you canceled? Have you consistently brought completed work and thoughtful questions with you?
- Your relationship with the advisor is a key to successful cooperation. Have you built a positive relationship with the advisor by good attendance and a positive attitude, as well presenting good quality of work? Have you been open to advice and criticism, and have you recognized that this is an essential part of the process, not an attempt to “put you down”? Do you consistently thank your advisor for the time spent, and remain flexible if the advisor’s schedule is busy?
- Do not ever disregard the advice or guidance of an advisor. If there is a conflict, then seek to resolve it in a mature, diplomatic way. Remember that you are the apprentice, and the professor is an expert mentor in the field.
- Thank the advisor for criticism. Although these comments are invariably painful, they are meant to improve your work and to allow you to provide the kind of work that you could not do on your own. Criticism takes time and thought, and is designed to be part of a dialogue working toward excellence.
G. Be fully informed about the codes required by your discipline
- Each discipline has specific formats required for the form of documentation. Familiarize yourself with the requirements and make sure you follow them from the beginning. Don’t wait until the end to insert the codes, as this will cause serious delays in your work.
- Consult The Bedford Researcher for all formats:
- APA (American Psychological Association) or Name/Date format is used by social sciences and sciences
- Chemistry generally uses the number system
- History uses CMS style (footnotes). You must buy the required guide and follow instructions
- English and Foreign Languages require the MLA (Modern Language Association) format
- Check the title for the bibliography, since this varies from bibliography, to references, works cited and so forth depending on the discipline