The Untold Story Of Quitting Grad School

The Untold Story Of Quitting Grad School

Higher education is a stressful but necessary journey. So what happens if you wind up hating it?
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Most people probably know someone who has an advanced degree. It's a tough, long road that might allow you better opportunities to work in your field and, hopefully, better pay. So, wouldn't it be safe to say that quitting grad school would be a bad idea?

Well, no, not exactly.

I'm not sure how many folks have dropped out of graduate programs, but those I know who have, they are some of the most brilliant and driven people ever. I know few who have openly talked about what it is like to drop out of graduate school and hell, why would you WANT to? You don't want to be embarrassed, you're unsure of how others will react and deep down, you're petrified because leaving it means you failed. You may envision a cocktail of horrible outcomes. But this conversation is important, and I am here to offer my experience of quitting grad school–the untold story if you will–and it doesn't end with a bleak and hopeless future.

Last year, I relocated to Middle Tennessee State University from South Carolina, my home state, the only home I had ever known. My pursuit was a Master's degree, a foot into the doorway of PhDs and my ticket to finally becoming Dr. Gatch. Needless to say, I was in for a huge surprise, but not in the ways you may expect. I was prepared for it to be hard (which it was), to be time-consuming (oh yeah) and to have a profound impact on my day-to-day life (and you don't really have a life in graduate school). I was ready for all of that, but it was still a process. It took trial and error to figure it all out. I was good with that.

I wasn't good with the lackluster environment I soon found myself encompassed by every single day. I was miserable. I was working towards an advanced degree in a field that just honestly disappointed me. I saw what the real world picture looked like and, eventually, just wanted to run away from it. I even got to the point where I just stopped trying. I stopped trying to do grad school. Although most others would rejoice after getting an "A" or a positive note from a professor, I didn't feel anything. I felt no real sense of accomplishment and I wasn't struggling to get the grades. I had a modest G.P.A. and overall solid performance.

But my constant disappointment would not subside. I was frustrated by the lack of regulation, annoyed by the superficial agenda and honestly disheartened by the dismantled ideology. Over the course of a year and some change, I went from an excited young professional, eager to complete the education that would allow me to impact so many with such beneficial measures, to a bitter and unhappy 20-something with what felt like no goals and nothing to show for a years' hard work.

So, I decided it was fair to feel sorry for myself for a couple of weeks after I officially withdrew from the program. I cried and I was worried about others finding out. I pondered what the future would hold, given this vast and unfamiliar new space that opened up in my life. But even in those days right after dropping out, I felt a peace that I had not felt in a very long time. It was terrifying and exhilarating, all at once.

So what did I do? Well, I am fortunate to have a really kickass job and they were not only gracious enough to let me work for them while in school, but they were awesome enough to welcome me back full time. I was in a good position to take some really awesome opportunities as a result, and I am entirely stoked for where this new road will lead. I'm lucky - not just because I had a good job (although that certainly is a blessing), but also because I had the courage to stop doing something that I hated. I quit something that didn't make me feel good about the work I produced. I dropped out of a program that underserved those who wanted to enact real change and overindulged narcissistic buffoons who only knew how to look good on paper.

My point is simply this: life is short and it's wacky and we don't really get all of the time we think we do to do the things we love. Do what makes you feel alive. Do whatever you believe gives your life purpose. Do not just "stick it out." Don't settle. If you chased your dream and it turned out not to be exactly what you expected, know that is it okay to build a new dream. Even if you're unsure about going into grad school right after undergraduate–wait. Get a job, have a boss that yells at you, learn how to work on a team. Develop strong and professional communication skills. Mature. Grow. Find yourself. And if you're afraid to quit, don't be. It could just be the most liberating damn thing you ever do.

Cover Image Credit: Pexels

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I often hear a lot of people complaining about their step-parents and wondering why they think that they have any authority over them. Although I know that everyone has different situations, I will be the first to admit that I am beyond blessed to have a step dad. Yep, I said it. My life wouldn't be the same that it is not without him in it. Let me tell you why I think step dads are the greatest things since sliced bread.

1. They will do anything for you, literally.

My stepdad has done any and every thing for me. From when I was little until now. He was and still is my go-to. If I was hungry, he would get me food. If something was broken, he would fix it. If I wanted something, he would normally always find a way to get it. He didn't spoil me (just sometimes), but he would make sure that I was always taken care of.

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2. Life lessons.

Yup, the tough one. My stepdad has taught me things that I would have never figured out on my own. He has stood beside me through every mistake. He has been there to pick me up when I am down. My stepdad is like the book of knowledge: crazy hormonal teenage edition. Boy problems? He would probably make me feel better. He just always seemed to know what to say. I think that the most important lesson that I have learned from my stepdad is: to never give up. My stepdad has been through three cycles of leukemia. He is now in remission, yay!! But, I never heard him complain. I never heard him worry and I never saw him feeling sorry for himself. Through you, I found strength.

3. He loved me as his own.

The big one, the one that may seem impossible to some step parents. My stepdad is not actually my stepdad, but rather my dad. I will never have enough words to explain how grateful I am for this man, which is why I am attempting to write this right now. It takes a special kind of human to love another as if they are their own. There had never been times where I didn't think that my dad wouldn't be there for me. It was like I always knew he would be. He introduces me as his daughter, and he is my dad. I wouldn't have it any other way. You were able to show me what family is.

So, dad... thanks. Thanks for being you. Thanks for being awesome. Thanks for being strong. Thanks for loving me. Thanks for loving my mom. Thanks for giving me a wonderful little sister. Thanks for being someone that I can count on. Thanks for being my dad.

I love you!

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14 Honest College Things The Class Of 2023 Needs To Know ~Before~ Fall Semester

Sit down, be humble.

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To The Class of 2023,

Before you start your college career, please know:

1. Nobody...and I mean nobody gives a shit about your AP Calculus scores.

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" I got a 5 in Calc AB AND BC, a 5 in AP Literature, awh but I only got a 4 in AP Chem"

2. THE SAME GOES FOR YOUR SAT/ACT SCORES + nobody will know what you're talking about because they changed the test like 10 times since.

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3. College 8 AMs are not the same as your 0 period orchestra class in 12th grade.

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4. You're going to get rejected from a lot of clubs and that does not make you a failure.

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5. If you do get into your clubs, make sure not to overwhelm or overcommit yourself.

visual representation of what it looks like when you join too many clubs

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6. It's OK to realize that you don't want to be pre-med or you want to change majors.

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7. There will ALWAYS ALWAYS be someone who's doing better than you at something but that doesn't mean you're behind.

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8. "I'm a freshman but sophomore standin-" No, you don't have to clarify that, you'll sound like an asshole.

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9. You may get your first ever B-, C+ or even D OR EVEN A W in your life. College is meant to teach you how to cope with failure.

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10. Go beyond your comfort zone. Join a theatre club if you're afraid of public speaking. Join an animal rescue club if you're afraid of animals. College is learning more about yourself.

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11. Scholarships do exist. APPLY APPLY APPLY.

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12. Don't try to brag about all the stuff you did in high school, you'll just sound like a weenie hut jr. scout

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13. Understand and be sensitive to the fact that everybody around you has a different experience and story of getting to university.

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14. You're going to be exposed to people with different opinions and views, don't fight them. Instead, try to explain your perspective and listen to their reasoning as well.

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