Laptopcase Posted October 21, 2016 Share Posted October 21, 2016 (edited) Hi everyone, I started attending a great STEM grad school this fall, and I decided to quit the program to get a job before I reapply to schools next fall. I've thought about this for the past two months, the whole time I've been here, and I'd like to hear about your advice on how to approach this issue. The first time I got here, I wasn't happy with the location. However, I decided to prioritize my research career. I went to a small school, in which research was not so active, and after spending some time in a big research university, I realized how unprepared I was when I was applying for graduate schools. I LOVED being a graduate student. I was so happy to do homework, teach students, talk about science with other students, and spend time in different labs. I also found one lab that I really liked, and I thought I was set to stay in this place. However, I was talking to a student in the lab I'm interested in the other day, and I came to a big realization. I realized I have no reason to stay in the school and that I'll be much happier somewhere else: 1) The group I'm interested in is working on a topic I'm very interested in. As you know, there are multiple aspects in one topic. The problem is, the lab's primary focus itself is not what I feel passionate about (Let's call it A). It's just that I luckily have a chance to study the aspect I'm interested in (Let's call it B ) within the topic they have been working on. I am going to be the first and only person focusing on the aspect, and even though I'm happy to take charge, I believe I will be able to learn a lot more if I join a lab that primarily focuses on B, not A. 2) I want to do translational, practical research. The lab does translational research, but my project itself is going to be probing fundamental mechanistic problems. I want to find a lab in which I can do translational research myself. 3) Now that I'm not so happy with the research, even though I love the people here, I have not much reason to stay. (I was not so happy with the location in the first place.) Having made up my mind, I haven't told anyone in the school about my plan, but I've been thinking of how to make the transition. The three possible scenarios are: 1) Contact a different school in which I interviewed but got rejected and ask them to reconsider me as an applicant. The benefit will be that if they accept me, I'll be able to start grad school ASAP. They also have a lot of labs that are very interesting to me. However, this is not exactly the top program, so I think if I'm going to change school anyway, I may as well spend one more year working as a RA and go to a top school. 2) Find a job ASAP and work there for the next 1.5 years. Then I'll be able to apply for schools next fall and start my grad school life in 2018 Fall. I'm willing to wait till then, but I'm afraid if I will be able to find a good enough job to let me get into the very top schools (like Stanford, MIT, Harvard, and UC Berkeley). It is risky. 3) Stay in the current school for the next 1.5 years and get a MS. The problem is, things will be very awkward and uncomfortable and unethical for me to stay knowing I will leave. I'll have to inform the PI next fall to get a recommendation letter, and things will not be so fun for the following year (until Fall 2018). I know the new school will not be so happy about me moving to a different school after spending time in a graduate school. 4) Honestly inform the current school of my plan to leave and look for a PI that will allow me to do a short project. I have not found a PI like that, and this is risky. The school may not like me, and my next 1.5 years may be very stressful. And here are my questions for you guys. 1) When would be a good time for me to inform the school of my decision? The earliest date to join a lab is early November, and the only lab I'll be willing to join is popular, so I won't be able to join unless I show clear sign of my interests. 2) What do you think will be a good plan to stick to, among 1-4? 3) The program in Plan 1) is a quite renowned program, I guess top 10, and I'm totally willing to wait one more year if I can get into top 5. The program is top 10 for its specific field, but it is not as comprehensively good as top 5. I'm happy to wait for one more year, but do you think it's too risky? Would getting a job in a good lab ensure me of my acceptance to top 5 programs? I'm afraid experience as a RA would not necessarily be fantastic and interesting so as to make me a very strong candidate. I have been thinking about this issue the whole time I have been in this school. I am very grateful that my time here has narrowed my interests and reassured my passion as a researcher. I just want to maximize my learning and experience as a graduate school by going to a place where I can find more exciting research. What do you think? Edited October 21, 2016 by Laptopcase Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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