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Changing Labs in my 4th Year


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Honestly, I'd love to tell you my grad school sorry of sobs and frustration. I'd love to convince you that my terrible situation is not salvageable and then have you tell me my decision is the right one.


But, I know that changing labs this late probably not the best decision. I know that if I leave my lab now that my past three years of hard work will become meaningless. I even know that I might be able to work out some things with my PI... grit my teeth through two more years with him and research that I only find vaguely interesting.


So instead, I'll just say, I'm doing this despite the losses. I cannot take this anymore and I've lived too much of my life gritting my teeth through things I hate for hopes of something better later.


Can anyone give me some positive to this situation? Any stories about a change this late going well? And advice on how to lessen the damage?

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Actually, in your situation my advice would probably be to just quit with a Masters.


It will be field-specific, but in Chemistry right now it seems like there are more industry jobs advertised for Masters-level than PhD-level students - so a terminal Masters degree is actually a rather good option. 


In the worse case scenario you will have several years added on to your PhD if you switch labs. Schools are getting stricter and are more likely to stop funding you after ~7 years in a PhD program. There are always going to be challenges associated with a PhD in any lab - there is a risk that things may get worse for you rather than better...leaving you with +2-3 more years of unhappiness in addition to the 3 you have already. Quitting a PhD program isn't a sign of failure - it's a sign of strength, that you know things aren't working out and that you are prepared to make a tough decision do what is best for you.

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instead of switching labs, i know someone who switched school altogether.  I am not sure how they managed that but they did it. if you can switch school, that would give you 7 more years to finish. You could also get a master and then go to another PhD program. 


Do you want to stay in the same field? I know some people who joined labs outside their fields. 

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