I really messed up.
December 12, 2011 9:05 PM Subscribe
I was asked to leave my masters program, but given a written assurance that I could reapply to the program. Now, four years later, I'd like to approach them about coming back, but I have no idea how to do so--and of course there are major complicating issues involved that are entirely my fault.
posted by anonymous to Education (21 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
About six years ago, I was accepted into a masters' program at a small liberal arts college. I had my doubts about going but had no real idea what else I could do with my undergraduate degree and my friends were all cheerfully certain that graduate school was what we were meant to do.
I should mention that I've always suffered from mild to moderate depression, anxiety and what I'm pretty certain is Avoidant Personality Disorder. I can usually keep things in check myself, but I have had bad periods throughout the years. I'm also shy, socially awkward and way, WAY too concerned with what people think of me.
My first semester started off fine, with a few problems. One was the head of my department, who would be friendly and enthusiastic one day, then very brusque and dismissive the next, with no pattern and no warning. Her behavior made me very tense and I hated dealing with her. Another was my advisor: I realise now that she's just very reserved until she knows you better but at the time I couldn't make out if she liked me, if she thought I was doing good work, etc., and meetings with her were always a huge source of anxiety for me.
A much larger problem was my housing. I lived in an off-campus house run by the school with three guys: one of them was noisy, inconsiderate and completely inpervious to complaints. None of the guys cleaned and I have stories about the place that would horrify Mike Rowe. I complained to the school, but they refused to do anything, saying that these things had to be worked out amongst ourselves. I ended up moving back home at the end of the year.
Things quickly went bad in my second semester. My new classes turned out to be awful and between my housing issues, sleep deprivation and anxiety, I started to let work slip away from me. One class was graded on two papers: I skipped both. A month after the semester ended, the professor finally contacted me about it: I lied and claimed I had turned them in. I did one paper from memory and sent it, but couldn't remember the other topic and claimed that I lost that paper in a hard drive crash. Ashamed of myself and afraid of his reaction, I never checked my school email account again.
When I returned for the next semester, my department head wanted to know why I hadn't responded to the teacher about my missing paper: I had failed the class because of it. I lied again and said I couldn't log into my school email from home and actually went to the IT department to let them know about the "problem".
My guilt and anxiety over the situation snowballed rapidly. I started avoiding my work; I stopped scheduling appointments with my advisor and stopped attending my thesis workshop meetings about halfway through the semester, at first because I didn't do the required work and then out of fear for what they would say when I did go back. I kept up the "no email access" story and added another one: that a relative had been injured in an accident and that I had to take care of them (partially true but very much exaggerated). After March, I never went back to school.
Despite all this, I still worked on my thesis and one of the last things I did before disappearing completely was to send what I had to my advisor. A few weeks after the semester ended, I got a package from her: it took me another few weeks to open it. Once I did, I found that she had sent me a critique, even though I had stopped meeting with her and communicating with her halfway through the semester. Also included was a note that said that she was very sorry but she would never believe me again when I said I had email issues.
A few weeks after the package arrived, I got a letter from the department. Too afraid to read it, I let that letter sit in my closet for years. I finally got the courage to open it last month and read what I had always suspected: that I was dismissed from the program. What I didn't expect was that it also said I was welcome to reapply.
I want to go back and finish. However, I'm afraid of approaching them because of my shitty, horrible and deceptive behavior. I take full responsibility for the way I acted: not a day passes that I don't beat myself up over the terrible way I behaved. However, I'm terrified at the thought of their reaction if I do reapply. The department head is still the department head and my advisor is also still there. So much time has passed that I hope it would show them that I'm sincere about coming back and finishing my degree, but they have reason to be wary of me and the knowledge of how badly I treated my thesis advsior absolutely kills me. She liked me and thought I was capable of excellent work and I took her goodwill and shit all over it.
I've thought about writing a letter but have been wondering lately if going in person might be better: however, I don't know if I have the courage for that at this point and it would be very difficult to do since I work full time. Any suggestions and thoughts about the best way to go about approaching them would be greatly appreciated.