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I have started my master's degree and I am a fully funded student. I want to get perfect marks and do my research perfectly. What steps should I follow to become an outstanding student in my supervisor's mind? How can I be a perfect student? I also have a class with him this semester. I am also doing research with him.

It really does matter to me to have a very good relationship with my supervisor. Please, give me any advice that you think is useful.

  • Always be early... You should consider improving your English - typos etc. – Solar Mike Jul 11 '18 at 20:01
  • @ Solar Mike for classes? I was a bit late last week. what is wrong with my English? I had typos now? – nikki Jul 11 '18 at 20:03
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    Research is never perfect. The process of research is never perfect. Learning how to perform research (as a new master student) will require of mistakes and false starts. It is all part of the process... – Jon Custer Jul 11 '18 at 20:08
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    You are pursuing the wrong goal. If you want to strive for perfection, do it because it is worth being a perfect student/researcher for its own sake, not because of what your supervisor will think. Do the right thing for yourself, and a positive reputation and the respect of your colleagues and supervisors will follow on their own. On the other hand, if you’re just doing things you don’t care about in order to impress someone, they will see right through you and will not be impressed. Related. – Dan Romik Jul 11 '18 at 20:20
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    You seem very intense. If you apply that to your studies, as I suspect, you will do well. Good luck - good studies. – Buffy Jul 11 '18 at 20:31
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Try not to "show yourself as an active student", be it! There is really a difference in it.

As an active student, you are genuinely interested in the field, you are asking question no mtter how stupid they seem, you are going an extra mile in assignments, be helpful to others (even if no one notices it), be active in students activities, ...

In fact there are way too many things you could do to do them all. So try to be you and pick what's best for your personality. Then you will shine.

  • "no matter how stupid they seem". I agree, though this feels risky to a new student. In many ways the only stupid question is the one not asked. – Buffy Jul 11 '18 at 20:18
  • what do you mean about "going an extra mile in assignments,"? how can I do that – nikki Jul 11 '18 at 20:21
  • @nikki2 e.g. there might be bonus excercises or an extra difficulty level. But be careful about yourself: I'm usually offering more excercises then anyone could do without severe health issues, just to give them a choice - don't try to do them all and don't forget to sleep and have some time to recharge your batteries. – OBu Jul 11 '18 at 20:28
  • @OBu why I should not do all of them? – nikki Jul 11 '18 at 20:31
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    well, I had many eager students like you - and many of them developed severe health issues because they tried to be perfect - beeing less perfect would have made them more perfect ;-). It's hard to give advice since I don't know your field of study and how your supervisor ticks, but the important message is that you need to find a good balance and often I'm more impressed by the "second best" student who does other things besides studying as well... – OBu Jul 11 '18 at 20:47
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No one is ever a perfect student, because no such thing exists.

You will make mistakes. It's a part of life and failure and errors are a fundamental part of the research process. Surving the adversity and challenges of research will make you a better researcher than doing everything "perfectly." I've seen people who try to hard to be perfect, and crumble when things don't go their way for some reason.

  • +1 Learning how to handle failure is #1 in the real world. – scrappedcola Jul 12 '18 at 13:52
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You should consider timeliness, for classes, setting up the lab, meetings, any planned activities...

So get there with time to spare to be able to help sort problems that may (or will eventually) arise... That is the type of attitude that will get noticed...

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Let's assume that you are very smart and knowledgable about the prerequisites for the course. That seems obvious from your question and how you state it.

When I was a beginning graduate student I was thought to be very bright because I asked a lot of questions - good questions, not just anything. But if I didn't get a point during a lecture, I asked about it by raising my hand and asking. Of course, I'd done my "homework" so the questions weren't disruptive or insincere. I really needed to know.

But the interesting thing is that my fellow students also wanted to know but many were afraid to ask.

This is something you could try, starting out in a small way, and seeing the effect. If you get any "push back" you could try something else. But it is really important to use lectures to really learn things and not let important things go past because a question wasn't asked.

  • when I review the course at home questions come up. how can I ask them? what is the common way to ask these questions? – nikki Jul 11 '18 at 20:34
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    Try looking at other sources - they all tend to have slightly different explanations or examples and most times, one is enough to give you the nudge or "the penny drops" or "gestalt" moment – Solar Mike Jul 11 '18 at 20:38
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    Some professors will start a class asking for questions. That is a perfect opportunity if it happens. In some large classes it won't, of course as there are too many students. But in such situations, there will be a teaching assistant who can help. Professors also, typically, all have office hours scheduled for student questions and help. Take advantage of that. When you ask a question and get an answer, if it isn't already obvious, you can also ask where you can learn more. Of course, if the textbook covers things that question is superfluous. – Buffy Jul 11 '18 at 20:39
  • Also, I teach Tai Chi as a hobby. Our prime instruction is "Relax". Don't let stress build up or it will be harmful to you. Find a way (Tai Chi is good for this) to reduce stress. – Buffy Jul 11 '18 at 20:40
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    @nikki2, talk to your classmates, ask older students, go to the TA's or instructor's office hours, look (Google!) for other sources (lecture notes on almost anything are plentiful). – vonbrand Jul 12 '18 at 12:29

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