Choosing an Escape Path
Anyway, so I'm trying to graduate by this August. Technically I could graduate in May, but I don't want to push myself too hard like I did last year, so I'm not setting that as my goal. What I'm concerned about though is my so called advisor (who has never actually given me any real useful advice on anything) not approving of my thesis and therefore nullifying both my full-time offer with Freescale and also my possible entry into the neuroscience program. You see, my advisor likes to put things off until the very last minute and only after it's way past too late, does she actually give any feedback on the work/paper that she's signing off on. It's happened to me twice already in the last year (and also caused me to get a temporary incomplete in my thesis course last Fall), and I can not afford for it to happen a third time.
So today I spoke with one of the higher-ups in my department about my situation and asked him what I could do, or if it would be possible to switch advisors at this point. After a long discussion, I found out I basically have four options.
Option #1: Do the thesis and manipulating her into granting a pre-approval
Basically what this entails is sending my advisor an outline of everything I plan to do and what my thesis will consist of, and getting her written approval saying "Yes, this will be sufficient." Then if she tries to pull a 360 on me at the last minute and won't sign the thesis because it's missing content or whatever bullshit excuse she gives, I have a good reason to backfire at her and tell her she already approved of this work, and that's what I've done. It seems like it could be a bit of a risk, but I have powerful allies in this battle that she may not be able to contend with.
Option #2: Take an extra class and turn the thesis into a report instead
Virtually anyone can sign off on a report, and it's less work too. It's basically a term paper that is extended out (which I've already done with some previous research by the way). I'll have to take a summer course to get out this way though. Seems like a weak/pathetic option out, but at this point I don't care. My goal is graduation, nothing more, nothing less.
Option #3: Forget the thesis, take a couple summer classes, and be done with it
After this spring I'll have 24 credits of "real" classes (ie, lectures, projects, exams, etc.). For a no-thesis/no-report graduation, you need 36 credits, but the very wise and friendly person I met with this morning told me that you only need 30 credits of "real" classes, and that the final 6 credits can be "fudged", as he put it, with conference courses or some other crap. I would have to take two real classes over the summer and employ some help from the department to help me "fake" the other 6 credits, but it is a way out with less flak.
Option #4: Switch to an advisor for "technicality" reasons and avoid a political fiasco
Of course in the ideal case I guess I would want to get rid of my advisor as soon as possible. That's kind of tricky now that I've already completed one thesis course with her, but after discussing things this morning we found a hole. My thesis research right now is really more of a data mining problem than a computer architecture problem, and because I know of a certain data mining professor whose class I took in Fall 2004 and who already knows a little of the work I'm doing, I might be able to get a mutual agreement so that I can switch advisors with no political fallout or hostility.
At this point, I think I'm going to try to go for option #1 and see how my advisor reacts to that. If I get a poor or otherwise unsatisfactory answer, I think option #4 is my next best bet. You know, it's so much easier to graduate when you are an undergrad because all you have to do is take courses, pass them, and then you're done. I wish I could go back a couple years in time and appreciate that back when I had it. Well, we'll just have to see how things go. It's graduation or bust now!