I am an international student at a US university and I have a fantastic, caring and supportive adviser who I find fosters a happy work environment for all his students to grow in.
Here's the drawback to this happily unfolding story:
- He advises 9 students, 5 of who are PhD students (I am one of them).
- 4 out of the 5 PhD students are in the final stages of their PhD program (me included).
- 3 out of these 4 PhD students have families and should have graduated at least about 5-6 months ago but because of "family pressure" they haven't. I don't relate to that because I don't have a family and I want to defend and graduate
My adviser has always had goals that are generally considered unattainable in my group. He had given me 3 weeks to finish my dissertation in 2012 with the dangling carrot that I could defend and then focus on writing papers perhaps.
I met his goal 1 whole week short of his 3 week goal. However, he has been postponing my defense for a variety of reasons (all of which are true) as he is being pulled in several directions at the same time as he is quite an important guy in his research area of fuel cells.
So this constant vaccilations had led to my defense being pushed to the end of Feb 2013. Now he tells me he doesn't know when I'll defend.
I find that this is rather unfair and considering that I generally have a good rapport with him I am unsure of how to broach this topic. Why am I so worried? I come from a country where demanding things from your adviser are sinful and gets you kicked out of grad school.
I'd really like to tell him that I want to defend and figure out the next step in my life! I am not talking getting a job necessarily but just life in general — get married, have kids, find a job, move to a different place (in no particular order) what have you.
Any advice or similar experience that I can draw from?