When I was applying to grad school, I remember the first thing I did was visit QS Rankings. I started gleaning through the websites to understand what kind of research happens in different places and what I could relate to best. Having decided on my strategy, I did my best. I had a huge list on an excel file googling every single thing I could find and then applied to a few.
One thing I missed while prepping up was to understand what happens behind the colorful and fancy websites that Professors put up. I could not understand how the interpersonal environment was in the lab, what kind of people I was going to work with, will I be able to adjust in the group or will everything be comfortable? Does the advisor actually “advise” students or is it just WORK WORK WORK for academic credit. So many things go unnoticed during the application phase and many people land up in a well planned out lab but regret it later on simply because it was too late for them to have discovered the reality.
As a grad student myself, what I feel is, yes, it does matter to have an advisor who is really good at what he does but it is even more important to have an excellent relationship with an advisor. When I discuss grad life with my friends with other universities, they cannot believe that I can walk into my advisors office with a notebook and a pen when I have a doubt and he spends hours until I am clear with the concepts. Having a good advisor breaks the ego barrier and helps one to build a real Teacher-Student relationship which last way after one graduates. On the other hand, having an advisor with whom one is not comfortable can be a nightmare. Imagine working for someone you dont like, moreover, that person needs to approve of whatever you do: thats the worst psychological trauma you can create for yourself. Dreading to wake up and work everyday and just counting when each semester will get over. Several people are under such a situation but they are too afraid to come out because they feel its too late, it might affect their academic standing, funding etc.
There are several universities with a governing body that looks over such issues, but then, why is it that still students do not come forward? What stops them? Please let me know your thoughts below.