I’m Done: Dropping out of Graduate School

If you frequently read my blog, you might have noticed that I haven’t posted much in the past two weeks. The end of the semester is partially to blame and the other part is I’ve been making assessing my health and where I want to be in my life.

As some of you may know, I have been battling depression which at times has been accompanied by suicidal thoughts. Constantly concerned with my image, I have always made sure to keep my emotional turmoil in check so that no one else would know. In fact, I have been an overachiever my entire life, running laps around people who doubted me, leaping across finish lines that no one knew existed. But here I am, May 8th at 9:38pm officially coming to terms with the fact that “I no longer see a path forward” (Thanks Ted Cruz and John Kasich for these lines, haha).

First let me give you some quick facts: I am finishing my first year in an MA humanities program. I have a 3.7(with a number behind it I believe) but I am simply miserable. Why? My department is absolutely a mess and the program is disorganized and some of the professors (I’m honestly thinking of one in particular) are insufferable. Before entering the program, I was unaware that the cohort has gotten smaller and smaller each year not because of funding (as the department alleges) but because enrollment has dwindled. Most importantly, those that enroll drop out! For example, the second-year cohort started with six people. Yes, six people. Of those six there seems to be only three standing. What happened, you ask? Well, one woman dropped out after the first year due to a conflict with the aforementioned professor. The other two students seem to have the same issue with the department and have virtually disappeared. Like I literally have not seen them all semester and it’s a mystery (to everyone) if they are still in the program, going to defend their theses, or if they are attending therapy (okay, I admit that’s only my concern).  Two of the remaining three defended their thesis within the last two weeks and passed with distinction but honestly I think the distinction was added in there because they are trying to save their dying masters program. The third student will be defending her thesis in about a week and she doesn’t seem too confident but…she’s trying.

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Did I also mention that the remaining three students happen to be international students? I have a feeling that my department has realized how poorly it would look if their remaining students flunked out. Especially since their money is what is really bankrolling the program. Don’t get me wrong–these students are capable, intelligent, driven people but I’ve noticed that the professors didn’t seem enthralled enough by their work to give them ‘distinction’. More to that point, these professors have attacked that cohort during question and answer sessions after presentations and overall their disposition towards students is condescending at best and downright nasty at worst. The administrative assistant is treated like absolute crap and she takes it out on the graduate students. She’s quick to throw us under the bus to save her ass as this is something she has clearly learned from her less-than-honorable colleagues. What I can’t understand is why she continues to deal with verbal abuse from the professors who  depend on her to do EVERYTHING FOR THEM without any trace of appreciation. I mean this woman uploads all of their readings, grades, sometimes administers exams, ect. for these people despite the fact that they have teaching assistants and secretaries. Without her, the program have vanished years ago. But alas, it seems that the day of reckoning has finally come!

So what was the straw that broke the camel’s back? I had to do a presentation and I was disrespected by “the evil professor”. He talked and shuffled papers throughout my ENTIRE presentation. Everyone saw it and everyone apparently knew why he was doing it. My first-year mentor (who is his colleague) said something to the effect of, “he’s intimidated and does not like Black women that look and act like you. That’s just how it is. You just have got to get used to it. I mean I told him afterwards that he shouldn’t have been doing that. But that’s just how he is.” I was completely shell-shocked when she said that. Yes, I realize that there are people in this world who may dislike me for no reason  but the fact that we think it is completely acceptable to treat people in this manner is absolutely ridiculous. Especially when everyone knows it.

Since then, there have been a host of other moments that have sealed the deal for me. One of which was the moment that I realized that my MA in humanities wasn’t going to do anymore for me than my BA in humanities considering I do not want to remain in academia. I have no intention on remaining unemployed with no experience. So if anyone has any advice on how to market myself with one year successfully completed, please do not hesitate to give me some tips. I will keep you all updated on my progress (or lack thereof haha). Thanks for reading this LONG rant.

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5 thoughts on “I’m Done: Dropping out of Graduate School

  1. I also dropped out of grad a few years ago. So I totally understand what you’re going through. It was tough at first. I got a lot of negative feedback from my family members (still do sometimes), but I eventually found it was one of the best decisions I’ve made in my life.

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    1. Really? Well you are an excellent resource. I have been frantically scouring the interweb, trying to connect with folks that have similar experiences. If you don’t mind, I have several questions. 1) were you in a masters or PhD program? What program were you in 2) at what point/for what reason did you decide to leave? 3) how long did it take you find a job (I’m assuming the one you were unhappy with) after leaving and how did you explain that to potential employers?
      Sorry for all the questions–I’m just curious.

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