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9/11/11 1:58 P

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When I first began my graduate studies, I though about quitting almost daily.However, I knew within myself that quitting would equal regret. I take one semester at a time. Do I ever feel adequate. Never. Do I ever feel prepared for the task before me. No. But I start chipping away at the requirements each semester and viola, at the end I acheive an incredible sense of accomplishment. Each of know what is best for us and sometimes we need to be completely honest and carefully weigh the pros and cons of whether or not to continue our studies or drop them. Only you know the answer to that. I encourage you as you meet the days ahead and your struggle to know what to do. Talking to a trusted individual about this may also help you to clarify what you need to do regarding your future educational goals.All the Best to you!

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9/8/11 10:57 P

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So I started my PhD program right out of undergrad last year and feel like dropping out quite often. However, I think about why I would want to continue on vs. why I would want to quit. I do this because when I come to this mindset I'm already down and of course the number of reasons to quit is going to exceed the number of reasons for staying. I actually felt similar to you last week when I had to completely change my dissertation project; I was/am devastated that I have to start over. However, I try to look on the bright side of things....such as I could be 3 yrs down the road and hit this roadblock and have to start over instead of one year in.

With respect to your comps (I haven't taken mine but my labmate is studying right now) you just need to study as much as physically possible. Your committee is going to attempt to push you to the limits of your knowledge (its their purpose) and that is something we all have to deal with. Although it is stressful and hard, I would keep on pushing through it if at all possible.

"Commit, Go Hard, Get Fit" - BEBC

3/17/11 10:01 A

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At this point, I've actually semi-dropped out. I took a leave of absence from my law school for up to two years. I was handling serious depression, and I just wasn't up to taking care of myself and being a perfect student. Along with medication, leaving law school has helped me so much. Every single day I have is so much better. I'm getting some work experience, and I'll get to pay down my loans a little bit.

I expect to return to law school to finish it off, but right now this was completely necessary for me. I hope each one of you has a better time than I've had and makes it through strong - but that you also have the courage to leave if that's what you need. It was the hardest and best decision I've ever made!

"Never let the future disturb you. You will meet it, if you have to, with the same weapons of reason which today arm you against the present." - Marcus Aurelius

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TRIGIRLJ's Photo TRIGIRLJ SparkPoints: (0)
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3/16/11 11:43 A

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As a grad student in my last semester of my PhD (ACK!), I can tell you that I've definitely considered dropping out. It's HARD!

The best thing that I can say is that you will get through it. Right now, it seems so overwhelming, but take it one step at a time.

Yes, oral comps suck. But, you can do it. You will not know everything they ask you. That's what they expect! The important part is how you handle it and how you can relate the question to things you do know. And, ultimately, they want you to succeed!!

Hang in there. It gets better. Part of the overall stress is being busy, lack of sleep, and bad eating. If you can, take a day or two and don't do anything and get away to relax. It can really help you clear your head.

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3/3/11 10:05 A

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I'm just going into grad school starting in July (pending formal acceptance to the program). This information is really helping me to fortify myself for what is to come. I'll only be taking 1 class at once, for 10 weeks, and then another course with no breaks for the summer or anything like in a traditional format.

I know it won't be cake. Hearing all of you talk about how it's a daily struggle at times is making me panic a bit, however I know that I'm never going to have my dream career unless I complete my degree.


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CD6202538 Posts: 13,636
3/1/11 7:52 P

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my 1st semester was insane--i had 2 writing-intensive classes to contend with and i had a near nervous breakdown at the end of the semester (partially b/c i turned in my final essay 8 hours late and was waiting to see if he would actually reject it on principle and i end up losing 60% of my grade--took 2 weeks to find out and i was a wreck). I took off for a year (partially b/c of funds, mostly b/c i thought i'd get my teaching job.

i'm back again now and plan to keep going, even if its only a class at a time. some professors are very understanding and can be quite flexible (i've had to postpone my midterm a couple of days--it just hasn't been gelling for me right now and I need 2 more days to get it together), just keep up with it as best you possibly can and ask for help from professors and other students if you need it.

it does take some getting used to--i've got only 1 class this time around, but also am in volunteering and student orgs (tripling my workload, actually), but its worth it. i stay enrolled, i can get things done on campus, and i love it enough to stick around...doesn't even bother me that i don't have a teaching job yet right now (for once).

okay, getting sidetracked, gotta get back to studying, i guess, but think about how far you've gotten and such. right now I'm at midterms, its half over this semester, and i can't give that up, not at all.

3/1/11 12:04 A

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I had an awful first semester of my masters program, and I fantasized about dropping out daily. I wasn't confident that I could hack it or that it was worth all the pain. Every time I would think to myself that I should quit, I ran through the pros and cons in my head, and each time I couldn't escape the fact that grad school was where I needed to be to get to the next step in my life and that there wasn't some magic, easier alternative. I've stuck with it, and each semester has been better than the last: better teachers, more interesting classes, and more confidence. I'm really glad I stuck with it but it has been the hardest thing I've ever done!

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CD6202538 Posts: 13,636
9/28/10 2:51 P

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heck yeah! i even dropped out of this group after that freakish semester last year--just couldn't do it and didn't think i'd be back.

part of it was the job hunt, but about 90% of it was total unpreparedness for how intense the semester would be--even with just two classes. I knew there'd be a lot of writing, but not THAT much. i thought it'd just be longer papers, not tons of mini ones and a giant paper. that was scary.

I freaked out so bad i had something close to if not a nervous breakdown waiting for my grades at the end of the semester. i decided i needed to take off spring 2010 and then summer came and i had very little money left to me as it was, so i didn't do it. i was going to stop.

but i'm getting the feeling that if i re-prioritize things and use that prior experience (and save up some money big time--budgeting would help a lot because part of my stress was trying to make enough for that semester--i paid in parts and was terrified the next paycheck wouldn't cover it and i'd be dropped). but i'm doing pre-emptive strikes on my budget, figuring how many days i need to work to take how many classes, and figuring out my priorities

i plan to be back strong in January--til then, i'll be attending club meetings and making contacts--and asking oodles of questions of the faculty (i annoy them, i'm sure)

9/19/10 5:52 P

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oh my gosh, yes! i started down the PhD path (in a research-based degree program) and hit stumbling block after stumbling block. i seem to have a knack for picking the "wrong" PI.

so i finally came clean with myself, did the whole soul-searching thing, and realized that what i *really* want to do is go to law school. but i want a degree to show for my time here, so i switched to the master's program two months ago, with an expected graduation date of the spring.

and then my advisor sat me down on monday and suggested that i "drop out and get a job". w.t.f.

which means that three years in, i've got to add another year because i'm switching labs.

i guess what i'm saying is that if you're a decent amount of time into your degree (a year or more) stick it out - you've made an academic commitment, and unless you've got a VERY compelling reason to drop out, it will only hurt you to leave without a degree. future employers, grad schools, etc will want to know why you didn't finish...

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8/15/10 8:29 A

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Hang in there.

I'd dropped out of my MS in Computer Science because I couldn't hack the commute with my husband working all the time and a young child at home.

Went back eventually to get my M.Ed. and am working on my Ed.D. But the same issues keep coming up. I left one doctoral school because hubby couldn't hack taking care of a teenager while I was in another state. So I transfered to a no-name school to be at home.

There are times when I'm ready to chuck the dissertation. I keep thinking that what I am saying isn't good enough. I don't dread the orals - I did Toastmasters (LOVED IT!), and eventually went on to do a lot of training, teaching, and conference presentations.

I think we're all conflicted about some part of this process, and it is incredibly difficult. But do what you're doing. Identify what scares you and reach out!

~~ Barbara ~~

My goals and rewards:
158 - April 3, 2010 - New RUNNING shoes - done!
153 - Massage
148 - Karate club
143 -
138 -
133 - Start job hunting
127.5 - Cruise to Alaska

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8/14/10 4:12 P

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I'd also like to recommend Toastmaster's. It's really been a big help to me, and is a very fun & supportive environment.

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8/8/10 5:00 P

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I think about dropping out almost every day. I know a lot of things would be easier without law school. I would be grateful to myself for doing it.

But then, I don't think I can really give myself the life I want without finishing this.

So right now I'm living for the future :)

"Never let the future disturb you. You will meet it, if you have to, with the same weapons of reason which today arm you against the present." - Marcus Aurelius

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CD7435270 Posts: 473
8/7/10 11:29 P

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This summer has been tough for me - it is the first time I've really thought about dropping out. That isn't the right decision for me, but I have definitely come to understand why the drop out rate is so high for these programs.

Frankly's advice is spot on - you don't have to love every course or every moment, but if you truly love the subject and this degree will get you where you want to be professionally, then it is worth muddling through.

As for your oral exams, I have some classmates that swear by toastmasters. May be a fun (read: nonacademic - we need that sometimes) way to build public speaking skills.

Good luck!

8/3/10 6:59 A

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While working on my first masters, I considered dropping the program quite frequently, but like you, I had loans and commitments that pushed me to continue. I am glad that I did persist. I observed quite a few fellow students struggling with the same concerns and desires. Grad school is a high stress space where students are expected to perform above average.

As for your fear of speaking in front of people, I would suggest visiting your tutoring center and see if they offer any assistance with oral presentations. Some schools have public speaking courses, and that is also an option. You might have to hang out with a bunch of undergrads, but it would increase your confidence.

I am overcoming social anxiety. One of the most useful classes I took in my undergrad career was a drama class that focused on public speaking. It ran two days a week for two hours each class. Everyone had to talk in front of the class at least twice a class, and our performance was evaluated by the class. Everyone was supportive and offered suggestions to improve performance. I was 42 or so when I took the class, the rest of the students were 18-20 and I felt rather odd at times. But it helped me more than any other class I took. Now I can teach a class of 20+ on a regular basis without problems, I can give a presentation to class and actually extend my time if necessary without panicking.

You might also try talking to your adviser and discussing your anxiety around the orals. They will have had other students who have had similar problems and may be able to point you towards some excellent resources.

As for dropping out, do you love the subject area? Are you fascinated by what you are learning? Can you see yourself working in the field after graduation? If not, maybe look at other programs that might suit you better and see if you can switch.

Good luck!


Yet there was a man within me
Could have risen to the clouds,
Could have touched these winds,
Bent and broken them down,
Could have stood up sharply in the sky.
--Wallace Stevens

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8/2/10 8:33 P

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It's definitely normal to be anxious about academic performance in graduate school. Since I started my doctoral work, I've had to learn to let go of that need to be the best and focus on my own progress. It's a struggle every day, especially when I get grades or feedback that are less than ideal. But, I'm learning that mistakes and failure the best way to improve my work. There were definitely times that I considered dropping out after feeling like I wasn't good enough. In the end, I decided to stay because I knew that I was happier struggling in this role than I was in my previous jobs. In part, the failures stung more because I'm doing something I really care about.

In contrast, one of my closest friends in the world actually decided to drop out of our PhD program a year ago. She was a big part of my decision to attend my institution, but I knew that her heart wasn't in it even though she's brilliant. In the end, she left the program because it was a place where she was surviving, not thriving. Even though it was a tough choice, people really respected her decision. She's managed to maintain good relationships with peers and faculty, so she wasn't judged negatively for choosing to do what was best for her.

In the end, I hope that you find the right path for you whether it involves staying or leaving your program.

"Vision without action is merely a dream. Action without vision just passes the time. Vision with action can change the world."
- Joel A. Barker

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SJ8705's Photo SJ8705 Posts: 11
8/1/10 9:04 P

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I started a masters right after undergrad and I don't think I was prepared for it at all. The first semester was very stressful, but still managed to pull off a 4.0. However, second semester was terrible - I was only registered for one 6 credit course but i failed the first exam, freaked out, and dropped the class. This summer I returned and took one more course - got an A....but now it's time to return in the fall and I am dreading two things:

(1) returning to class with the same people that were in the class I withdrew from (only about 20 people in the program so we all know each other) - a real shot to any pride/self-esteem

(2) the dreaded comps - especially the oral exam. I get very nervous giving presentations - let alone an oral exam. I almost didn't start the program when I heard there was an oral exam, but I didn't have any other plans after graduation so I stuck with it. Now I feel even less competent to take the oral exams. What happens if I spend all of this time/MONEY (paying completely via loans) and fail the oral exam this spring - then I will be thousands of dollars in debt and no masters degree

Anyone else feel this stress? Has anyone in this blog ever dropped out of a class or considered dropping out of grad school?

Trouble deciding to drop out now or just wait til i fail the comps....

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