Catria Posted October 13, 2015 Share Posted October 13, 2015 I am writing about possibly dropping out of a physics PhD program (at the University of Minnesota) after one semester. (A little early in the program, I know) At the beginning, I was overconfident about my own ability to finish the program, I thought I was the same as everyone else in my class, I thought that, since past students at my level of ability could graduate from that very department, I could do so as well. As much as I would like to think that it isn't an indictment of any lack of ability on my part (until proven otherwise), I am candid in saying that the issue I am about to describe could have happened anywhere else (e.g. Notre Dame) and that the triggers would happen again.It may well be that people within a range of personalities (how wide however, I don't know) may be more suitable for a PhD program than I was, but I had a nervous breakdown when I got last week's assignments back: 16/25 and 21/30 in classical physics and statistical mechanics respectively, and the worst part was that both assignments were on material that were undergraduate-level to me. I told myself that the only solace will come when the coursework will be over, that is, about two years from now. Perhaps 16/25s or 21/30s would feel less painful if the rest of the class struggled to similar extents and/or these assignments were about new material (however, a 8.5/10 in advanced quantum mechanics, in comparison, is heaven, and I actually got that grade), but underperforming in an assignment covering undergraduate material would make me feel that my place in that graduate program was proof of past ability at best.I often hear about impostor syndrome, but as much as I would take credit for my past successes, I feel that my skill may have vanished since I last had any significant measure of success (being a finalist in a student scientific poster contest) in my field. But I know better than to blame my TA duties for this.I usually feel better about poor positional performance if my absolute performance was satisfactory, or about poor absolute performance if my positional performance was satisfactory. But someone has to be at the bottom of the class for a given assignment and it happened to be me for that particular classical physics assignment. Nervous breakdowns of that type will happen again, and I think my emotional instability in the face of homework assignments will finally prove to be the one item that renders me unable to complete the program. For this reason, I do not feel I am cut out for a PhD program, despite past research experience telling me that research would probably make me feel better than coursework, thanks to the coursework bottleneck.P.S.: I feel as if the assignment due tomorrow will ultimately decide whether I will stay in the program or drop out... Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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