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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To The Girl Struggling With Her Body Image

It's not about the size of your jeans, but the size of your heart, soul, and spirit.

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To the girl struggling with her body image,

You are more than the number on the scale. You are more than the number on your jeans and dresses. You are way more than the number of pounds you've gained or lost in whatever amount of time.

Weight is defined as the quantity of matter contained by a body or object. Weight does not define your self-worth, ambition or potential.

So many girls strive for validation through the various numbers associated with body image and it's really so sad seeing such beautiful, incredible women become discouraged over a few numbers that don't measure anything of true significance.

Yes, it is important to live a healthy lifestyle. Yes, it is important to take care of yourself. However, taking care of yourself includes your mental health as well. Neglecting either your mental or physical health will inflict problems on the other. It's very easy to get caught up in the idea that you're too heavy or too thin, which results in you possibly mistreating your body in some way.

Your body is your special, beautiful temple. It harbors all of your thoughts, feelings, characteristics, and ideas. Without it, you wouldn't be you. If you so wish to change it in a healthy way, then, by all means, go ahead. With that being said, don't make changes to impress or please someone else. You are the only person who is in charge of your body. No one else has the right to tell you whether or not your body is good enough. If you don't satisfy their standards, then you don't need that sort of negative influence in your life. That sort of manipulation and control is extremely unhealthy in its own regard.

Do not hold back on things you love or want to do because of how you interpret your body. You are enough. You are more than enough. You are more than your exterior. You are your inner being, your spirit. A smile and confidence are the most beautiful things you can wear.

It's not about the size of your jeans. It's about the size of your mind and heart. Embrace your body, observe and adore every curve, bone and stretch mark. Wear what makes you feel happy and comfortable in your own skin. Do your hair and makeup (or don't do either) to your heart's desire. Wear the crop top you've been eyeing up in that store window. Want a bikini body? Put a bikini on your body, simple.

So, as hard as it may seem sometimes, understand that the number on the scale doesn't measure the amount or significance of your contributions to this world. Just because that dress doesn't fit you like you had hoped doesn't mean that you're any less of a person.

Love your body, and your body will love you right back.

Cover Image Credit: Lauren Margliotti

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5 Tips For Incoming College Freshman

Remember when everyone told you that high school was going to be the best four years of your life.. and then it wasn't? Well now for some of you, comes the BEST and WORST four years of your life. Here's a little bit you need to know in order to be prepared for the eventful year to come.

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Scleigh1
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Yes, believe it or not your parents, friends, and teachers were right. College is SO much different than high school in so many different ways. Luckily, I just survived my freshman year so I was in your place literally a year ago today. Everyone tells you how different college is from high school but they don't tell you how and that's what I'm here for! Lets just start with the 1st difference....

1. A whole new world

You will feel like your in a new world because in a way you are. You will suddenly be surrounded by so many groups of people, new cultures, different lifestyles, different languages, everything is so NEW. Not only are you not going to class with the same people everyday that you have seen in the hall for years but you are going to classes with complete strangers from all over the states and sometimes even the world. You are suddenly going to have to share a room with a stranger or even a best friend which can also lead to some issues. But what is most important to know is that even though you feel alone the first few weeks or even months... trust me so does everyone else, its okay to feel overwhelmed its normal. We all have absolutely no idea what we are doing we are all just pretending like we have somewhat of a plan. I met most of my friends my freshman year through being completely LOST on campus.

2. Making new friends

One thing that you aren't taught how to do in high school or honestly by anyone is how to make friends. I knew most people in my classes throughout high school so when I started college I hardly knew anyone besides my roommate. It definitely took me a while to branch out and start making friends but I had to remind myself to put myself out there and eventually I met some wonderful humans. Remember to always be yourself and you will attract people that WANT to be your friend. It takes time but once again, you are not alone. It will look like people already have their group and stuff but everyone is struggling just as much as you most likely.

3. Responsibilities 

The new responsibilities you will have... get prepared, they will hit you like a truck or at least they did me. You will suddenly be responsible for cleaning your room, doing your laundry, feeding yourself, doing your homework, remembering specific dates, paying bills, honestly the list becomes never ending because you are slowly becoming an adult :(((( I remember a time when I wanted to be an adult, now all i want to do is be in kindergarten taking a nap LOL, Luckily I already was familiar with most of these things as were others im sure but there are also people that haven't had to do some of the things by them selves before which can be overwhelming at times. You will eventually fall into your own personal routine and get your own system going and things will become second nature. Don't be afraid of this, just be prepared in order to have the most stress free incoming year.

4. Academics...

The real reason we are in college in the first place. Yeah, here is where your parents and teachers were right... high school courses and college courses can be either very similar or very different. It honestly depends on what the course is and who your professor is but, for the most part, college courses and professors are much different. Professors do not like to repeat themselves and expect you to remember any important dates they mention. They expect you to write it down, no excuses. In high school you teachers would give you a break but that's not really how college works. Some professors may cut you some slack but most wont. Do NOT waste a professors time and remember that even though you are paying to go to school there, you can get kicked out in a heart beat so don't risk it. Refrain from talking in class, and show up!!! you can miss one thing and the next thing you know you have a 5 page paper due in a few days. Save yourself the stress and just pay attention for the whole 50 minute or hour and a half class you have.

5. Packing 

PACK LIGHTLY!!! I packed so much unnecessary clothes, decorations, etc, that I ended up not needing or never even using. Safe as much space as you can because your dorm room will definitely get cluttered fast and you will accumulate more things throughout the year. So, pack the clothes and decor you NEED. Try your best to not over pack (as hard as it is (; )

6. Homesickness

No one:

Every college student ever: "Ugh I can't wait to go to college I hate living here!"

You know we've all said it but you will most likely get homesick at some point. My house is not far from the College at all and even I still was homesick sometimes. Its one of those things that everyone goes through so remember you are not alone. Luckily, we live in the 21st century too so you can always video chat your fam and send them some love. Its okay to be homesick just try to get more involved and do things you would do if you were at your own house. I always try to bring a few things from home too just to look at and remind myself that I will see my family soon.

Freshman year was difficult for me to adjust to as im sure it was to others, so hopefully you keep these tips in mind this summer as you prepare for your first year of college! I am excited for you all to start this next chapter, welcome to the beginning of adulthood class of 2023!

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Scleigh1

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