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. I had been given 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 this goal one whole week short of the 3 week goal. However, my advisor has been postponing my defense for a variety of reasons (all of which are true) and is being pulled in several directions at the same time because of an important position in the research area of fuel cells.
So these constant vacillations have led to my defense being pushed to the end of Feb 2013. Now I'm told they don't know when I'll defend.
I find that this is rather unfair and considering that I generally have a good rapport with my advisor 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 is sinful and gets you kicked out of graduate school.
I'd really like to say 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?