Kshitij Tiwari Ph.D.

Selecting the right advisor for your PhD: Young vs Experienced

5 min read

You’ve decided to pursue a PhD, and you’re now faced with the daunting task of choosing an advisor. This decision can be daunting, as there are a variety of factors that need to be considered.

In a previous article, we primarily looked into understanding the supervision style while searching for the right PhD advisor. In this article, we will look more into the experience and maturity of the advisor and how it affects you as a PhD scholar.

Should you go with a young and ambitious advisor, who has plenty of energy, or an experienced and slightly jaded one, who can offer sage advice and guidance? Let’s take a look at the relative benefits and drawbacks of each option.

Disclaimer: The pros and cons of young vs experienced advisors mentioned in this article are by no means a personal remark on any supervisor. These are not to be taken in a derogatory fashion on supervisors and their approach to advising PhD students. On the contrary, these are just some of the considerations for PhD students when it comes to deciding their ideal PhD advisor and the traits they would like them to possess.

Choice of advisor affects your PhD success

Choosing the right advisor can be an integral part of your PhD success. Depending on the person’s experience level, they can either be a major asset in terms of guidance and motivation, or a massive hindrance in terms of progress.

Both young and senior PhD advisors are good at what they do, it is just that their approach to supervision varies. Therefore, before making a decision, it is important to weigh both these options to ensure the best possible outcome for your PhD.

What to expect when working with a young advisor?

Young advisor in the context of this article is not necessarily referring to their age but more so in terms of the years of work experience as an advisor. Advantages of a young advisor are that they are likely to be more excited about innovative approaches and more likely to take risks. They are also likely to have more time to devote to their advisees than an experienced advisor.

They may also be more willing to rethink traditional approaches and less likely to be constrained by an established view. On the other hand, a young advisor may lack the experience of a seasoned advisor. They may not have supervised many students before, and this can mean that their mentoring skills may not be as sharp as those of experienced advisors.

What to expect when working with an experienced advisor?

An experienced advisor is likely to have greater knowledge and offer a more long-term vision. They may also be able to better support you and provide more guidance as they would have encountered many similar situations in their time as an advisor.

On the other hand, an experienced advisor may be more resistant to change and less likely to encourage risk-taking approaches. They may also be more focused on their research and less available to discuss your ideas and provide feedback, as they are likely to be busy with many other projects and commitments.

Key takeaways

When you’re creating your list of potential advisors for your PhD, it is important to consider both the advantages and disadvantages of going with a young or experienced advisor. Each option has its own benefits and drawbacks, and it is up to you to decide which is the best fit. Ultimately, no matter which advisor you choose, it is important to remember that putting in the work, committing to it fully, and taking advantage of their guidance is the best way to succeed in your PhD. And just so you know, if you so happen to realize that you need to switch advisors, that is always a possibility, though would take a bit of effort to execute the switch.

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