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I want to change advisors.


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I had a friend in what sounds like a similar situation. She took leave for mental health reasons (with Dr's note). Is this a possibility?

 

There are limits to how much you should prioritize school or how future PhD programs will look at things. I think your health, both mental and physical, should be a greater priority. And what you have described does not sound healthy for you.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Well, on top of all the other mess, a woman thought it was more apt to text her friends than it was to watch the bumper of my car.  As a result, she smashed into the back of my car at a relatively high speed, totaling my car and messing up my neck.  Now, I have 4-5 doctor's appointments each week that I am required to commute to throughout the week, which is seriously compromising what little ability I had to keep up with my studies.  I'm not even taking a full course load, and I am behind on my two classes, and all I am doing throughout the day is struggling against what little concentration ability I have left to get these studies done.  This weekend I should have gotten an extremely easy assignment finished by last night.  Tonight, it's still not done, and I've spent the whole weekend living in the library struggling over the simplest of topics, as well as catching up on all the lessons that I couldn't absorb during class.  On top of that, I may have not even had time to touch a second assignment which may also be due tomorrow.

 

I had a spare car just in case one of my cars were to mess up somehow, and that one ended up breaking as well, so both cars are in the shop, and I am on a loaner car.  When going to my car to get to school to catch up with this stuff, the loaner car got towed (first time I've ever had a car towed in my life...).  Through the 100 hour work weeks I had forgotten to notify the front office that I had a loaner car, since both of my other cars were no longer operable.

 

So, half my time during the week is spend doing 15-20 phone calls a day with the lawyer, insurance companies, appointments with several different doctors, while trying to stay afloat in my studies.

 

I feel as if life is my enemy or something.  You can read my post history and see how hard I worked just to get into graduate school. Now that I'm here, it's as if everything that could possibly go wrong goes wrong.  For the first time in my life, I had to have a family member fly in to offload the tasks.  Their response was something akin to "holy crap, I can barely keep up.  I don't know how you maintain your composure through all of this mess."

 

I seem to just attract bad luck.  I'm going to have to take two incompletes if I can, and almost certainly I will have to ditch any hope of doing a thesis.  My adviser had a month to figure something out topic-wise (we have no autonomy in choosing thesis topics or dissertation topics), and has not figured anything out.

 

I just want to get into industry and close this chapter in my life.  Everything I have done regarding graduate school seems to have brought about the worst that life has to throw at me.  I come out of it bitter, tired, and full of contempt for the whole thing.

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My sympathies to you for what sounds like an awful string of bad luck. I second what MathCat posted above--perhaps a leave of absence for medical/mental issues would be best, and then you could put off the thesis until you're ready to return to it with full attention. If I were you, I would totally be struggling just to stay afloat with life, not to mention school! Don't know if taking a year off is an option, but if so, it's something to think about.

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  • 1 month later...

So, lots of hectic things have been happening in the past few months.  I managed to get myself on track to graduate with a coursework master's degree by the end of the summer.  I will just be hanging around to complete some research.  I was hoping for a better final cumulative GPA, but my "minimum" in my head was a 3.5.  I managed precisely a 3.5.  Given the circumstances of the year so far, I suppose that is not so bad.  It's not exciting, or a huge relief, but it is "ok."  I am just finishing up the physical therapy due to the car accident, and am in the process of applying for jobs through the school's job application system.  There is still a lot of anger I have pent up about choosing this particular program in the first place.  It says "aerospace" on the degree, but there was little to no actual aerospace research.  I think that is a terrible administrative gaffe and strongly misleads students with aerospace aspirations.  To think that I passed the qualifying exam one year ago and now I'm at the point where I just want to live a life that isn't an abusive work environment.  I do not know if I've come a long way, but I am still battling the idea that I have completely failed at my goals.

 

Basically, despite my negative feelings about the issues around me, maybe things are looking up, but I have terrible perspective because I do not know what the environment is like post-grad school.  Unfortunately references will be hard to come by because of my struggling performance over the last semester.

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Congrats! With the horrendously bad luck you've had, a 3.5 and being able to graduate at the end of the summer are HUGE accomplishments, and in no way are failures. I don't know how anyone could survive such a toxic academic environment AND personal life chaos without going insane. But you did it! After this, you'll be free to get on with your life and do what YOU want, for a change.

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Congrats! With the horrendously bad luck you've had, a 3.5 and being able to graduate at the end of the summer are HUGE accomplishments, and in no way are failures. I don't know how anyone could survive such a toxic academic environment AND personal life chaos without going insane. But you did it! After this, you'll be free to get on with your life and do what YOU want, for a change.

Thanks for the encouraging words.  I feel as if I might need a lot of that at this point, because I am seemingly unable to conjure them up for myself.  I'm just drained, and I'm looking at the job market thinking "I'm really nothing special, nowhere near where I had wanted to be."

 

This is all just in terms of master's degrees too.  I realize with full conviction that a Ph.D. was probably not for me unless I had found a fantastic match.

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Thank you for coming back to update us and congratulations! Given everything that you have been through, this is a huge success. Each individual problem you faced might have been enough to make someone quit, but you managed to get through it all, and with a very respectable GPA too! Don't underestimate your accomplishments! I'm sure with some perspective you will be able to look back and see this for the success that it is, but for now take it from us -- you did a very good job. Again, congratulations and good luck to you with whatever you choose to do next! 

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I want to add my voice to the chorus as well. Given everything, you've done really well for yourself, so congrats! It will probably take you a while to recover - I hope that you give yourself all the time, care, and credit you deserve during that time.

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I really applaud you for making the difficult decision. My best wishes for a great career ahead. Do keep us updated about your life events, I am sure everyone in this post will be extremely happy if you go on to have a successful career, which I am sure you will. Especially if you decide to complete your PhD - either at the same place (with different boss) or at a different university.

 

I am starting my PhD this fall, and its really saddening to see that bright and motivated students interested in contributing to science and engineering are swallowed by the politics of academia. However, I firmly believe that one does not need a university stamp or affiliation to contribute to science and innovation - all one needs is a creative mind and perseverance. Hopefully you will do something great in the near future that your former adviser might proudly proclaim was because of his tutelage :P

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You did well, GradHooting. Not only did you successfully get through a very challenging Masters program, but you made a brave & honest decision to leave academia behind. Which was the right thing to do.

 

Even though you are entering the job market at a lower rung than you anticipated, after 3-5 years of working you will make up a lot of the difference through promotions, changing/upgrading jobs. It may not take your career in the direction you planned to take...but you will discover all sorts of career opportunities and positives you'd never considered before.

 

With time, this passage in your life is going to be nothing more than a distant memory: something you can talk/think about without feeling bad emotions. In the meantime, take care of yourself. Getting a Masters degree is still an achievement (it's a higher degree than most people have).

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