Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
springsteenfan

Regretting Graduate School Choice

Recommended Posts

I want to begin this post by acknowledging the insane amount of luck and privilege that preceded my problem in the first place. In many ways, I feel guilty even voicing how upset I am about this. My feelings probably aren't even legitimate, but I don't really have anyone with whom I can discuss these issues.

Long story short, I applied to PhD programs across multiple disciplines and the choice came down to two top-ranked schools (one was slightly better than the other and is in my home state). I was originally ecstatic, but as the deadline to notify them loomed, I began to panic. Pressed to make a decision, I chose the slightly lesser-ranked one a few states away from where I grew up. It is in a better, cheaper location and the school was a better cultural fit for me. I was nervous about going to school so close to where I grew up and there was definitely an impostor-syndrome-esque response on my part that made me think I "didn't belong" (for context, I come from a low-income background). I almost immediately regretted my decision, for reasons professional and personal. I originally chalked up my reticence to nerves–I was probably going to feel this way no matter what choice I made, right?

However, concerns about being close to family (my father is in remission from colorectal cancer and has a host of other medical issues, I learned this week that my grandmother is going to need intense day-to-day care, etc.) were raised and I realized that I had made a horrible mistake. I reached out to the school I turned down about 2 days after the notification deadline to see if there was anything that could be done and, understandably, they said it was impossible. I am now feeling lost, alone, stupid, reckless, and silly. How could I have thrown away what will probably be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity (attending a highly prestigious school and being able to care for my family members)? How could I have been so rash and callous? If I had changed my mind even 36 hours prior, this would have all been preventable.

Once again, I want to reiterate that this is entirely my fault and I have to live with the (absolutely fine!) consequences of my actions. I can always leave this program and re-apply to the better ranked school from back home, though the chances of readmission are probably close to 0%. I'd like to imagine that I was thinking rationally when I picked the first school and maybe this won't turn out so bad. But I feel horrible right now. Sorry for venting, I'm just not sure where to turn. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You aren't rash or callous. You sound like a good person who cares about your family.. Don't beat yourself up. You had reasons to pick the other school; it was a better cultural fit as you said, and in a great location. 

It's unfortunate that you're not going to be as present as you would've liked, but there were reasons for choosing the school you did. I'm sure your family knows how much you care for them. Maybe you could try to see them once a month at least on weekends. You'll be okay at this school, I'm sure of it. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)

Know you're definitely not alone in these feelings. I was in a similar situation (choosing between two great programs), and while I'm happy with my choice, I'd be lying if I said I haven't frequently experienced anxiety about my choice (Incidentally, I also picked the slightly lower ranked school further from my family). I could be wrong, but it does seem like you're probably experiencing a similar anxiety, and I do think it would be unavoidable no matter what choice you made. I can completely understand how you're feeling when it comes to your family. But what could you realistically have done for your family with your grad school responsibilities even if you had chosen the other school? You sound like a selfless person, and I think it's positive that you'll be able to have that focus on yourself, and still see your family whenever you're able. 

I think you are beating yourself up. But it really does sound like you made the right choice. Don't doubt your past decisions, you made them for a reason. I find that I get deeper into my regret ruts when I fixate on all the negative aspects; it's unavoidable that'll you'll feel miserable if you do that! For me, it's helpful to push those thoughts away, and focus on all the positives that made me choose the school I did. Get on google and look up fun things to do in the area you'll be moving to, look at the exciting research at your school, etc. Anything to distract you from your doubts and reaffirm that you made a choice that made sense for you. It may be extra helpful also to get outside validation by talking to friends, advisors, family, etc.

Take a deep breath. You're not stupid, or rash, and it sounds like you made a good choice. Wish the best for you!

Edit: I see from your post history that you will be attending Brown! That's an amazing choice and I'm sure you'll do great things there. 

Edited by Mataharii

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
5 hours ago, springsteenfan said:

I want to begin this post by acknowledging the insane amount of luck and privilege that preceded my problem in the first place. In many ways, I feel guilty even voicing how upset I am about this. My feelings probably aren't even legitimate, but I don't really have anyone with whom I can discuss these issues.

Long story short, I applied to PhD programs across multiple disciplines and the choice came down to two top-ranked schools (one was slightly better than the other and is in my home state). I was originally ecstatic, but as the deadline to notify them loomed, I began to panic. Pressed to make a decision, I chose the slightly lesser-ranked one a few states away from where I grew up. It is in a better, cheaper location and the school was a better cultural fit for me. I was nervous about going to school so close to where I grew up and there was definitely an impostor-syndrome-esque response on my part that made me think I "didn't belong" (for context, I come from a low-income background). I almost immediately regretted my decision, for reasons professional and personal. I originally chalked up my reticence to nerves–I was probably going to feel this way no matter what choice I made, right?

However, concerns about being close to family (my father is in remission from colorectal cancer and has a host of other medical issues, I learned this week that my grandmother is going to need intense day-to-day care, etc.) were raised and I realized that I had made a horrible mistake. I reached out to the school I turned down about 2 days after the notification deadline to see if there was anything that could be done and, understandably, they said it was impossible. I am now feeling lost, alone, stupid, reckless, and silly. How could I have thrown away what will probably be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity (attending a highly prestigious school and being able to care for my family members)? How could I have been so rash and callous? If I had changed my mind even 36 hours prior, this would have all been preventable.

Once again, I want to reiterate that this is entirely my fault and I have to live with the (absolutely fine!) consequences of my actions. I can always leave this program and re-apply to the better ranked school from back home, though the chances of readmission are probably close to 0%. I'd like to imagine that I was thinking rationally when I picked the first school and maybe this won't turn out so bad. But I feel horrible right now. Sorry for venting, I'm just not sure where to turn. 

I am so sorry to hear about your family members. I can only imagine what you and your family are going through, and I hope your father's recovery goes smoothy.

I do know what it is like to live far away from family, even when they are sick. It's not great feeling because you want to be there with them. However, you shouldn't punish yourself for choosing a place further away from them.

Also, you are not alone in questioning your choice of grad school. I still question my choice to this day. I would say give the school you chose a year or so to see if you really like it. It seems like you are currently in a position full of nerves to point where you are questioning everything, especially with everything going on with your family. You seemed to have chosen that place for a reason, right? So, I don't think you should give up on it so quickly.

When it comes to your family, you might not get to be there in person with as much as you want, but there are still ways to contact them.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.