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Program a disappointment


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I was very excited to receive an offer from a school for PhD study. All in all, though, this first semester has been not what I anticipated. For all I know, the feeling is mutual. I am beginning to get a little fearful. Though I do not wear my feelings on my sleeve, there is a point where stuffing emotions is not healthy.

In one class, I feel I have been scapegoated, the instructor taking issue with every single comment, every time -- and I am not the most vocal participant. My writing has also been eviscerated. In another class, the teacher offers no syllabus, really, and contradicts self from class to class. On the one hand, one could say this gives us flexibility. On the other, it is profound unpredictability.

Help!

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Consider: How are things in your other classes? How many classes do you have to take? (For credit? To audit? Because your advisor says so?)

How is your research going?

 

If this one course is the major concern you can't stand, then I'd say you can swallow the frog so to speak. I don't know how things work at your school or what they're like, but is it possible that this course is a PITA that ends up in an OK result?

 

I don't mean to minimize your concerns whatsoever. If I were you, I would feel the same way. 

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The first thing to do when you don't know how you are doing, is go to your advisor. Also consider talking to the DGS, it's their job to meet with grad students when they have a concern that needs to be kept private. 

From the information you are giving here, it seems a regular graduate school program. The courses and seminars are the place to make comments, take risks, and be exposed. It is not unusual for professors to model better commenting, though some might not be very tactful. Writing is hard. Be prepared to have your writing eviscerated from now on. For me it also pretty hard, I remember feeling so vulnerable! But my advisor reassured me it was not "me" as a person who was being corrected but my way of (very clumsily) convey ideas. The third case, it seems is not about you at all, since no one has a syllabus. 

Although your feelings are not unusual, they shouldn't be happening (I think). Do talk to your advisor or a mentor to voice them and see how the department can help.

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