How do people quit grad school?
February 7, 2012 7:05 AM Subscribe
How do tell my advisor that I am dropping out of grad school and finding a job?
posted by rjbiscuit to education (17 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
So I’ve searched around here for people in similar situations, and I am slightly relieved that there might be life after grad school, but still very much freaking out about the next steps in my life.
I am at a very good university in a stats PhD program with a very well regarded, well connected (and actually quite nice) advisor, so the opportunities after graduation would be very good – for someone interested in being in this field. I am in the middle of the first year of the PhD program, after doing 2 years in the Master’s program, working with the same research group. I have done very well in coursework, and been relatively productive in terms of research, but I completely failed the qualifying exams (generally not common, but >1/3 of people failed last year). You get 2 shots at the exams, and my advisor was surprisingly supportive after this.
I am very unhappy in my program. I am overworked, and way too stressed out all the time. I am uninterested in my research, and do not want an academic job in the future. I am not completely disinterested in the research aspect, but I really just don’t care about the topic enough to feel a need to get a PhD. I have immense trouble sleeping, and have recently sought help for depression. I feel like this price is too high. In short, I just don’t give a crap, anymore, I’m burnt out. I would rather salvage what’s left of my sanity and health and live without all the pressure and expectations.
I think that I did not have the best reasons for getting going to grad school in the first place, and have always had doubts. I struggle a lot when people ask what I’m interested in, cause honestly, not a whole lot. I thought I could fake it long enough to find something that I thought was cool, but I’m ready to give up on that hope. I’d rather work less hours, have weekends off, and get better compensation. (is that naïve?)
I am almost certain that I am going to leave the program after this semester, my friend tried to drop out during last semester, but they told him that his funding would be revoked and he’d have to pay for the term out of pocket -- so I guess I will finish the term and cash out. What I am not sure how to do is how and when to bring it up with my advisor. I am also terrified of the process of getting a job, interviews, and such – grad school was partially meant to delay all that. How to I spin dropping out on my resume/CV (I have 2 years of master’s classes, + 1 year of PhD classes)? How do I make it sound like I’m not a slacker or a quitter? Do jobs require letters of recommendation, or references, or whatever, and would an advisor write one for someone leaving his group (I know this is probably case-by-case)? Is it ridiculous to give up on an amazing opportunity?
And how do you explain this to people who live and breathe academia (I have a hard time with disappointing looks and guilt trips)? I’ve talked to other students in my program, and they look at me in shock that I could consider anything other than working for a research institution.