I would like to have one of my department professors as an advisor mainly because he is an expert on the field that I am interested in and I'd like to work in.

The problem is that he is a really busy professor:

He is currently enrolled doing his PhD, he is teaching 2 student groups, he is married also a father of two kids and I have heard recently that he is usually late so that he does not even have lunch at home. However he put his name on the list of 'available teachers to do thesis with'.

So my question is if would it be a good choice to have him as an advisor?

Is it possible for a professor to do ALL these activities and also an advisor?

I really doubt that he could give me the attention and help that I might need as a thesis student.

What do I do?

  • 3
    Is this about your bachelor thesis? Because at least for anything beyond that I'd want my advisor to already have completed a PhD. – Roland Nov 19 '18 at 6:57
  • Yes it's bachelor thesis. – user100869 Nov 19 '18 at 7:05
  • He has a good reputation academically and he is around 40, there's no problem there I think.. – user100869 Nov 19 '18 at 7:09
  • 1
    Yes, it is possible to do all of these activities and also be an advisor. If this is actually the case and if he is a good advisor we can't tell you. Can you ask some other students he is currently advising? Or simply talk to him about possibly doing your thesis with him and give him an opportunity to address your concerns. – Roland Nov 19 '18 at 7:16
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    As an undergraduate, you should not need long prolonged meetings, when I did mine, there would be a 20 minute meeting and I would leave with 2 or 3 weeks work. Once that work was done, by me, I would then have another meeting... Two of us had similar work to do and the other failed... – Solar Mike Nov 19 '18 at 8:51

In general, the answer is no. You normally want an advisor who can spend time and effort with you. This becomes more important at higher levels of education. A too busy doctoral advisor, for example, is deadly. But the specific case may not match the general case.

Much will depend on the nature of the thesis you need to write. How "far out" from your normal studies is it? How well do you already understand the problem and see a path to its solution? A deep research topic in, say mathematics, when you don't yet know the required basics, might be too much. A philosophical paper (in any field) in which you give evidence for and against some point of view might be just fine.

At the undergrad level, having an advisor who is simultaneously doing a PhD might be an advantage as he is connected to a lot of ideas. If you are depending on the advisor for ideas for the thesis this could be a good thing.

How self motivated are you? How dedicated and hard working? You won't get a lot of face time or long answers to email from such a person. Is that ok? Can you push through with only minimal advice? Say in the time it takes to ride a couple of floors in an elevator? Some advisors are good at saying the right thing and saying it quickly.

You write that he works in an area that you are interested in. That is important. Maybe very important. What are your other options? Either for advisors or for topics.

Ultimately, though, it is is a tradeoff of many factors that only you can judge. You might make the right decision or not. Try to not make the worst decision.

  • It's definitely not ok to have short time meetings with him. I don't have other options, actually this is my "2nd option" because there's no professors in the department that work on the first field that I wanted to study. Of course there are other professors that have a lot of time to spend with a thesis student but I simply don't like at all the topics they work in. – user100869 Nov 19 '18 at 19:50

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