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Changing departments? Crisis...don't think I'm cut out for this anymore


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I'm really freaking out now. So I applied to five schools for a specific field (master's level) and was accepted to all 5. I received full funding at two and partial funding at the third, and no funding at the other two. My top choice had been the school with no funding. Problem is that I've come to realize that I'm not cut out for this field anymore. I made a huge mistake, overestimated my abilities, and now I don't know what to do. If I accept these schools, I'd go in and spend a lot of energy and time and money (the research grants would need to be re-paid if i didn't complete the program) doing something I no longer enjoy doing, and also jeopardize any future chances I have of getting in to grad schools in other fields if i'd have a fail or a drop-out/incompleted master's on my record. I'm starting to think that I shouldn't even be in this field any more and switch into something that I am much better suited towards. 

On the other hand, if i turn all of these down and waste a year, then how could I possible ask my referees for more letters next year? I will have wasted their time and effort in writing tons of letters for me. How could they talk approvingly of me when I have acted like this? I won funding at top schools and am turning them down for the reason that I don't think i'm able to do them any more. A big part of my motivation for not continuing IS that i have health problems that would make stress like this really harmful to my well-being. An older medical condition I was recovering from is starting to re-surge and the stress of this may be part of it. 

So i'm wondering whether it might be possible for me to change departments within a school. Like accept school A and transfer into a different department. Do a degree that i'm less interested in but that I can handle for a year, and then apply to other programs. I don't know if this is even possible at all so I am wondering if anyone has done this before. 

Edited by fuzzylogician
Edited for privacy at OP's request
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I am a little curious about why do you think your abilities do not match with those required by the Master. If you were funded at three top schools, it means you had the mathematical background to finish the program and that you were among the best applicants. Therefore, you should have the ability to finish the program. That must be out of discussion.


Any illness will dampen your performance at any department. So, even if are able to change departments, which I find unlikely to happen if you were admitted to a program, your performance is still going be sub-optimal.


You could ask the programs to defer your admission because of your health condition. If it is a serious condition they will understand.

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I had a major imposter syndrome moment freak out during this entire process and then eventually calmed down. Maybe that will happen for you, or maybe this is a level-headed thought from you, in which case here's my advice:


1) Don't freak out about asking for more letters next year. First of all, not starting something because you don't think you can do it/not wasting a bunch of money is a responsible decision. Second, a lot of people don't get into graduate school their first application cycle. Letter writers have to do a repeat year all the time. 


2) Like Karoku said, ask to defer a year for health related reasons. If they say no, you aren't in any different of a position that you're already in. There's no harm in asking at this point, right?


If this is a freak out like I had, here's my advice:


1) Chill. You wouldn't have been admitted if you weren't qualified. The reason for graduate school is to continue learning and to build on your current skills. You're right, you don't have the ability to do everything right now, but you've been accepted into programs that are designed to give you those skills or at least the opportunity to develop those skills. Graduate school will definitely be hard, but you wouldn't have been offered admission or a government grant if people didn't think you were competent. 


2) Chill. Sit outside, have a beer, think about how awesome it is that you've been accepted into multiple schools and received a government research grant. YOU DID IT. It's awesome. :)


(I can't speak confidently on the transferring programs question.)

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thanks guys for the responses. I've been hearing from a lot of people that this might just be an impostor syndrome thing, but i've honestly looked at the program materials and realized that for the core courses i am way in over my head. The elective courses i could excel at because they are the applied versions of what i already know, but the core courses just have such a huge jump in terms of conceptual difficulty from what i am used to that i think i would honestly fail. i really don't know how/why they accepted me when they can see that my technical background is so weak. I think they might have thought that a lot of my econom courses were more technical than they were, which is incorrect, sadly. 

I didn't realize how out of touch i was until I actually got my hands on the course material a few weeks ago. I couldn't even understand the material, let alone grasp it enough to pass the course. If I had taken 3 or 4 more years of math I might have been able to handle this, but with only calculus and some statistics it just seems unfathomable to me. 

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