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How to break up with a professor.

  1. Mar 1, 2014 #1
    Hey guys,

    In a bit of a sticky situation here. So, there is a prof. who wants me to work with him over the summer and then into the future, the issue is, his area of research is NOT what I see myself doing or even interesting.

    My question is, how would you tell him that you would rather work with others in the department as opposed to him?

    Any help would be appreciated.
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 1, 2014 #2


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    Be honest and straight with the professor. He will most likely understand (and agree) and if he's a jerk it's good to know early.

    No professor wants a student who isn't interested in the work.
  4. Mar 1, 2014 #3

    Vanadium 50

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    "Thanks for the offer, but I will be working with Prof. X instead"
  5. Mar 1, 2014 #4
    I was in the predicament myself. I'm currently finishing up a project from the winter with a mathematics professor. The program we applied to through my school is one for which we may apply to again for the summer. He emailed me a link to the application and asked if I wanted to apply to continue our work. The problem is that I need to begin research in physics with another professor. After an email to respond, I saw him and spoke with in person and he said "I got the message loud and clear." Having explained to him that I just needed to do what was most closely aligned with my interests, he understood. It's slightly less obvious when discussing work with professors within a department. But we have a professor who does work in networks. I have done an independent study with him, but I will never do research with him. Then again, he has never extended the invitation to me, but I have sent several students his way. Depending on how closely knit your department is you may be able to do something along those lines for your professor.

    Similarly, I switched advisers (in a very small department). And I spoke with my now ex-adviser just to let him know my reasons for switching; that is, my current adviser's interests are the closest to mine and I find myself seeking her out regularly.

    Overall, a quick polite man-to-man (person-to-person) conversation will clear the air. Most professors are very understanding of the fact that you need to do what's best for you. There are rarely hard feelings on the matter.
  6. Mar 2, 2014 #5
    This title led me to believe things I shouldn't...
  7. Mar 2, 2014 #6


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    Same with me :rofl:.
    I was :bugeye: at first.
  8. Mar 2, 2014 #7
    Just tell him you prefer the other guy's area of research. Is that so bad? You aren't exactly telling him he's an arse, or that he's not good enough for you. You're simply saying that you want to research something different.
  9. Mar 3, 2014 #8

    Stephen Tashi

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    A long shot would be to look up your provessors past papers and thesis and see if he once worked in a field that did interest you. Perhaps he'd let you return to his youth.
  10. Mar 3, 2014 #9
    It's your life. The professor will get over it.
  11. Mar 4, 2014 #10


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    Also tell him that it's not because you don't like him,it's because you simply does not like the field.
  12. Mar 4, 2014 #11
    Don't tell him that lol. The professor is professional enough without needing reassurances like "I still like you". Given that you're an undergrad, your professor probably won't care at all.
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