Jump to content



Recommended Posts

I am an international stuent. For the last two years I was convinced I wanted to do this Masters, whch I just started in fall. However, I've arrived in the US and hate it, things are a LOT more expensive than I could have ever predicted and the program is disappointing.


Is it a bad idea to withdraw?

DO I need a solid reason to tell them?

Should I wait out the semester?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

i'd wait the semester out just to at least say you gave it a decent chance. when i started my MA program (also as an int'l student) i didn't really like the classes i was taking and questioned whether i was just wasting my time or not. but i found other interesting courses to take in other departments and that kept me going until i realized the program wasn't bad, it was just different from what i was used to.


HOWEVER if you feel like you'll run out of money before the semester ends and have  no foreseeable way to earn more i'd quit immediately. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

If you simply hated living in the US and found it expensive, but liked your area of study I'd encourage you to give it a chance for one semester. But the fact that you find the program disapppointing is concerning. 


Here are some questions to think about as you try to decide...


*Why are you disappointed in the program? Have you tried to make the situation better? Is this even possible? (You might need to ask some local students about this in case things are done differently in your country. Maybe you can improve things and you just don't know it).


*If you studied a similar program at another school, is it conceivable that the program would better meet your expectations or do you just not want to pursue this type of degree anymore?


*If you drop out now, what does this mean for your career? Will you abandon grad school altogether, work, or consider studying something else?


*How much of a financial impact will if make if you try it out for one semester and decide to withdraw later on? Is the exchange rate in your country so much lower that it will take several years to recooperate the money lost in the first semester? 


If you hate the program and no longer want to study or work in your field, then I would cut your losses and withdraw this week. If you don't like where you are living and the school is a disappointment, but you're still interested in the field, you may want to consider finishing the semester and applying to new programs for next year. You might be able to transfer some of your coursework over to your new program.


On the other hand, it may raise some red flags if you drop out of a program after the first semester. Admissions committees may wonder if you'll do the same think again in a new program.


If you simply do not like the town/city and the school is disappointing, consider staying for the masters and going somewhere else for a PhD, if a PhD is part of your plans. However, I would only stay for the masters if you currently have a good scholarship or funding and still want to work in the field. If you are paying your own way and the degree isn't funded or your career goals have changed, I think you should drop out before you lose even more money.


That's my 2 cents. Good luck, OP. Keep us posted on your decision.    

Edited by jenste
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks for the replies! I didn't give a detailed explanation before, so let me expand a bit.

I am a doctor where I am from, just completed internship. I decided to do a MPH to get into research and academia. To be honest, I really didn't enjoy Medicine and had built up this idea of doing a non-clinical Masters for years.


Here are my serious problems:


1) I'm in an extremely expensive city. The rent is turning out to be 700 USD minimum to live in a dump. This is extremely difficult...I knew this in advance but figured I could make a sacrifice, but its much worse than I could have ever expected.


2) The program is soooooo slow and weak. They are spoon feeding material like I am in the 3rd grade, and classes are only three days per week. I'm used to classes, ward rounds, duty nights, oral exams where I am coming from. All the exams are 'take home', how ridiculous! I was in a class for "Public Health Administration" and the lecturer boldly said with a plain face, "to be honest at the end of this you will not be competent administrators"...I cannot believe this admissions process was competitive and I cannot believe this is going to do anything for me but put me into debt and send me back home in the same job position I would have been when I left.


3) The scholarship is a lot, but not compared to the overall cost of the program.


4) Still can't see myself going to the Dean and asking to withdraw. I imagine that would have some serious implications in terms of - immigration and Visa issues in the future, admissions in the future, professionally if I ever have to interact with these people again, etc.


The first semester won't throw me into debt but still, I can't see myself finishing this program, which is one year. Its hard to say give it a semester when I know I will almost definitely not be finishing. That is four months of waiting to move on and spending in vain.


If anyone has ever withdrawn, please give me an idea of how serious the process is.



Link to comment
Share on other sites

It might take some time for the program to warm up - the initial classes of the term tend to be easier (to ensure everybody is on the same page) before moving into more complicated material. 


Have you lived in the USA or other countries besides your native one before? Because there may be a bit of culture shock, which tends to ease off after a few months. 


My advice would be to think seriously about (i) the jobs you want to do in the future (ii) how to qualify yourself for those jobs (iii) if the current program is able to help you get those jobs, and if there are alternative ways to get what you want without this particular qualification. There's no point wasting your time in a program you aren't suited for, when it doesn't actually help you get what you want. 


The International Office at your school would be the best people to talk to about the visa/financial issues surrounding a program withdrawal. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

You may find it beneficial to speak to an academic adviser this week in confidence as you make your decision.


I think there are some additional issues to consider, depending on your personal goals.


If you drop out this week, does this mean you will have to leave the country? Will you still be able to work in the US if you are no longer a student? Are you willing to return back home (if you are no longer allowed to stay if not enrolled in school)?


If you have to return home, will it take a long time to get another visa to return to the US in you plan to return next year? I would be surprised if you were penalized by immigration for dropping out. But you could double check with immigration and the international office at school. As long as you leave the country by the required date then withdrawing from your program should not having any bearing on your ability to get another student visa in the future, in my opinion.


If you do not want to return to your country for a year, I think you should seriously consider completing the program, especially if it is well ranked. The program is what you make of it. If the material is too easy, approached your profs and ask them for recommended readings to do on your spare time. Become involved in research projects and other activities that will strengthen your resume and give you a better learning experience. Consider your new field as part of your life long learning and read up on all the topics you think will help you become more of an expert in your field.


If the program is not well ranked and you are fine with returning home for one more year, it may be more beneficial to return home and apply again next year.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Oh and I forgot to mention, yes, I have interest in the field but seriously wondering now if I'm doing it for the right reasons. Not liking your job is starting to seem like a BAD REASON to go to graduate school.


I don't think this is a bad reason, but it should not be the ONLY reason for entering a new field. Dissatisfaction or failures can motivate people to change their goals and turn their lives in a different direction. It can be a good or bad thing, depending on the new goals chosen and the reasoning behind these choices.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I don't know if this will help, but I read something recently that really changed my thought process: Grad school isn't about the classes. The classes can be helpful, but your focus should be on research. Basically, the professors are no longer in charge of your learning. You are.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I don't know if this will help, but I read something recently that really changed my thought process: Grad school isn't about the classes. The classes can be helpful, but your focus should be on research. Basically, the professors are no longer in charge of your learning. You are.


This is an amazing point. I personally dont learn that much from classes. I go to most classes only because I am expected to. I am finding that grad school is much more about making resources available to you than about actually teaching you. I have access to whatever papers I want through my school and read them constantly, anywhere from a few a week to a few a day, depending on my schedule. I have brilliant professors around me who guide me through projects and answer questions about papers. I reanalyze data from papers and bring it to staistics professors to ask questions about the best methods to use. I dig deep into the models used in the lab and come up with ideas for own projects, not just follow along with a PI tells me to. If you want to learn then you can make it happen. I would figure out what you want out of this program... research with a PI, an internship, tons of time to read about a specific topic? Make a plan to acheive this goal with the resources around you at school.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

What will you do if you drop out and go home? You said you don't like medicine and I'm assuming that means you don't want to practice. Are there other opportunities for you back home right now?


I'm not entirely sure what kind of expectations you had. An MPH program is not anything like being an MD intern. They really are two worlds apart. Even in the area of exams.


Being in another country is certainly hard and I can appreciate your homesickness and being annoyed by the cost of living. However, you spent a good chunk of time, effort, and money in order to apply to schools, apply for your visa, and then again to move. Are you really willing to lose all of that? The program is only a year long; are you sure you can't stick it out? The beginning of the semester (especially the first semester of a new program) is never really enjoyable for anyone. It's a big adjustment. Everyone is unfamiliar and uncomfortable, and the work isn't challenging yet. It won't be like that for the whole year. And even on the off chance that it is, what's 12 months in the grand scheme of your lifetime?


I hope you decide to continue. Good luck with your decision.

Link to comment
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
  • Create New...

Important Information

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