Again, the temptation for busy faculty is to tell students to go away and come back when they have something to show. But busy students tend to put off work that doesn’t have a definite due-date. So thesis work - work that they have the least experience with and need the most help with - tends to get put aside. Since they have no work to show, they don’t make another appointment. Then, since they haven’t come to see their mentor, the downward spiral continues.
Students say that they’re most likely to do their thesis work when they have regularly-scheduled appointments with their faculty mentors. Students who are given specific tasks to accomplish at regularly-scheduled meetings will almost certainly complete their theses on time. Students left to their own devices frequently let things slide and wind up trying to complete their theses past graduation, over the Summer or into the next Fall semester, an unpleasant experience for everyone.
Students should never to leave their mentor’s office without scheduling another appointment, but they don’t always do this on their own. So, it’s important for an mentor to be proactive: to make regular appointments with the advisee, once a week or once every two weeks, depending on their progress. If they don’t show up for an appointment without letting the mentor know in advance, the student should call the mentor and reschedule. (Part of the thesis experience involves learning to budget time, to work with mentors, and to be responsible.) If they show up unprepared, the mentor should reschedule and take whatever steps necessary to ensure that they’re prepared next time. Mentors need to be proactive.