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emhafe

Writing & Working

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So, I'm curious what other grad students and grad school survivors have to offer. I'm in a program that I initially loved, was excited to work with my dissertation adviser, and willing to overlook that I really don't like the geographic location. Now my dissertation adviser is taking a different job, I'm done with coursework, and for the first time really floundering about my decision to come here. Like, all of a sudden it hits me just how much I don't like living here and that I'm only here for this program that now feels unsatisfactory (no longer anyone in my field). I have funding for five years (almost half way through) and seriously considering forfeiting the reminding years to take a job and write the dissertation while working. Thoughts? I haven't posted on here in years so I'm not sure I put it in the right place. This might just be me venting. Idk...I've been so sure of everything at every moment and now I just feel sad and confused now. 

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Thoughts? People do this all the time. Depending on the job, it usually slows them down - so it'll probably take longer to finish than if you were working on the PhD full-time. But if you are diligent about working on your dissertation on the evenings and weekends, and are content with the idea that you will have pretty much zero free time while you finish up, this is doable. (I work in industry and we have actually had several people join our team while the PhD is in progress. Some finished, and some did not. We don't care either way, lol.)

Whether or not it's a good idea for you, specifically, is a different question. How good are you about staying persistent with your work and managing your time? How passionate are you about your dissertation topic? (That can make a difference in whether, after returning from 8 hours at work, you feel motivated to actually work on it or not.) Will you have to move somewhere geographically distant from your doctoral program to find work? (That can decrease your odds of finishing, since you don't have ready access to your university's resources.)

If you are "almost halfway through," I'm going to guess that you just began your third or maybe fourth year in the program, which at many programs means you maybe just finished up coursework and are looking at comprehensive exams and/or a dissertation proposal. At that stage, it's still a viable option to think about "transferring" to a new PhD program. Is your advisor going somewhere interesting? Is there the possibility of them taking you with them to the new university (assuming it's a different faculty position)? If they can take you, they can potentially negotiate you not starting over. If you went to a completely new program, you might have to start your coursework over (or maybe redo a year), but that might be better than staying stuck where you are.

Or...are you just done? Are you only dissatisfied with the program and location, or are you starting to have second thoughts about doctoral study overall?

As a student, you probably have a certain number of counseling appointments in your insurance - consider taking advantage of them and talking to a counselor/therapist. They can help with the sad and confused, but also with the career transition decisions as well! You can also spend some time doing some soul-searching yourself - maybe journaling, maybe just thinking deeply - about what your true feelings are right now, and whether you're just fed up with the location, the location + your program, or doctoral study altogether.

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