Jump to content

Leave a research group after 1 year - No one wants to take me


Lonely
 Share

Recommended Posts

Hi,

I really need advice. I didn't know that the situation was so terrible like that when I left a research group. I worry, cry and don't know what I should do now.

I am an international student doing my Ph.D. at a university in the USA. I've joined a research lab for 1 year and get supported full time as RA. But after 1 year, I found that the research direction is not a good fit. The PI tried to pursue me to stay in the lab but I honestly tell her that the research direction is not what I want to do. 

After that, she told me that I needed to meet the chairman to secure my TA position. I met the chairman and he said that the department would not give me TA if I didn't have a supervisor. I know some students in my department don't have a supervisor in their 3rd year but still get TA support and I am just in my 2nd year. I wrote an email to a professor in my department to ask for joining his lab. The prof liked my CV and responded very fast and told me to meet to discuss. But after he knew that I was in the group of my old PI, he quickly changed his attitude and said he was about to retire and could not take me.

I always know that my supervisor is a very powerful person in the department but I never expect that she will do things to harm me. Look back, one year in the lab, I work hard and did contribute to 1 paper. I did not do anything wrong to be treated like that. Why I can't do what I  like?

Now I think no one in my department wants to take me since they don't want to stand on the other side of my old PI and therefore the chairman has a good reason to not give me funding. My GPA is very good, so they found a good way to make me have to stop is to not give me funding. 

I am thinking of changing graduate school but I am afraid I cannot go anywhere. The science community seems to be too small. It seems like every grad school considers changing grad school as something extremely negative.And if the new school write a letter to the old school to ask information about me, they would write about me as the most terrible student.

I am preparing for GRE to reapply but I feel hopeless. I don't know what I should do now. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

So a couple of quickies. 

1) I wouldn't be so quick to throw your PI under the bus, from what you've stated it appears she hasn't done anything but try to advise you as to what your best options are. 

2) I also wouldn't be so quick to assume the new PI you're trying to join is saying no to you because of your previous PI. There could be a wide variety of reasons why he said no. 

3) This is one of the crucial reasons why it is so highly advised to go to a school with multiple labs you'd like to join (possibly with rotations). So that if one doesn't work out, you have back up plans. 

So all this being said, it doesn't sound like the department is doing anything bad perse, but rather, you decided you wanted to change labs after your first year, but had no lab to go to (in your own school). This is not the school nor faculty members fault, but rather a bad situation and poor planning. I also wouldn't go all out saying they are out to get you either. From my experience, the school and faculty members want you to succeed, but there are guidelines and rules, and just because they don't make exceptions for you doesn't mean its anything personal or they want you to leave the school. 

Finally, for obvious reasons, schools don't like it when you join and then leave. A future school may be concerned they'd accept you, only to have you leave a year in. Now this being said, it doesn't mean the school will immediately rip you apart in a letter, or that you're doomed and no other grad school will take you. If you really can't find anything in your program that you like, then I think maybe leaving would be your best choice. Keep in mind, the GRE is good for 5 years, so you may not have to retake. 

At the end of the day, it's not the end of the world. It's fine, these scenarios suck, but they do happen and people do get past them. Let this just be a lesson so you don't make the same mistake twice (i.e. go into another grad program without any back ups). Good luck!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi Samman,

You are right to say that I conclude things too quickly. Things might not be as bad as it looks. I told my supervisor about my leaving intention since the summer but she pursues me to stay, I already stay for this fall. But the more I stay, the more the relationship between me and my PI becomes bad. My PI is skeptical that I will not work hard and keeps reminding me of how she has invested money in me.  It is so stressed that I can not stay there any longer. Actually, I wish I left my group since the summer. If I do that, the relationship between me and my PI would not become bad.

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 month later...

I guess I am in the same situation as you. My situation may be even worse. I really feel sad, depressed, and isolated, I lost my motivation to continue my work everyday. I don't know how long I can still hold up. I am thinking about leaving my current school and joining a new one, but I am also afraid that dropping out may affect my application for a new school. ... 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 month later...

I hope it's not too late to reply to this - consider transferring graduate schools. I was in a similar position to you guys. Didn't work out with my lab group. Turned out my research interest was a niche my program didn't offer. I networked with the professors at other schools (basically emailed them and said why I was interested in their research), and so far I have two acceptances at peer institutions. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

I have not experienced this but I knew someone who did. She finished her classes and left with essentially a master's from one institution before transferring to another and continuing her PhD. I'm not sure of the process, but I think that may be better than leaving and attempting to reapply.

good luck!

Edited by scientific
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Your PI is correct;  she did invest both  money and time on you which could have been invested into another student.  I am not being critical, but it is something to think about. Was there any discussion about research prior to joining her lab?   Students leave labs, change PIs, change programs, drop out, and so on on a regular basis.  It's not uncommon.  

I know of plenty of professors who change their research up from time to time.  One, who was also a former PI of mine, was going in a different direction from what he did as a post-doc which was different from what he did as a Ph.D. student. Granted, there is an over-arching umbrella over all of his interests.  Your job ultimately as a Ph.D. student is to conduct research that will be of benefit to the lab/PI.  In exchange, you get to learn how to conduct research, perhaps some academic conditioning along the way, and then are awarded with the creational of Ph.D. Now granted some students do get to work on projects of their own interests and for others there is little or no choice.  Which way, I would imagine would've been made clear.  

Is it really that big of a deal to work on a project that will take you into a different direction?  You are still contributing something.  You still get that Ph.D.  You still get to spend the rest of your life pursuing the research that you really want to pursue.  

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
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

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