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Dalmatian

Crying in front of professor

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Has anyone here ever cried in front of a professor? Or have you ever had a student cry in front of you? 

Today I cried in front of a professor for the first time ever (though I slightly teared up once before with another prof). I've been struggling academically and during a meeting with one of my committee members today, he asked me why I thought I was doing poorly, if I felt unprepared for grad school based on my undergrad experience etc. And in trying to tell him that I regretted choosing the undergrad I did because I thought it was a mistake, I broke down. He was very kind, but I felt completely mortified. I never cry in front of anyone, including my therapist! I hope he doesn't think I was trying to garner sympathy. It was definitely an unplanned and unwanted response on my part. 

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I think it is a great moment for you to realize that you begin to adapt your new life. I am a first year of Ph.D. and my relentless mentor made me cry 3 times. I already went through a mental breakdown and actually yelled at my advisor during one of the lab meetings. Thank God everyday if you have a supporting faculty around you. I was a very successful undergrad and had an amazing master's experience, but I have lost all my passion and ambition in the Ph.D. thanks to my mentor. You will be fine but I won't. That's why I am doing my best to live this goddamn place. 

 

 

 

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@Dalmatian Yes, I have had students cry in my office, usually in circumstances not unlike what you're describing. It happens. Not much you can do about an uncontrollable emotion that sweeps over you, so I'm glad to hear that your professor handled it well. 

@Berk Oh, that really doesn't sound healthy for someone in their first semester. I would strongly advise you to look for support elsewhere, be it through moving to another lab/supervisor or by simply finding a mentor who isn't your advisor. It can be an advanced student, a faculty member, maybe someone in a specialized support group (those exist!). But don't just keep going like this for too long, because you'll find it very hard to finish, and I'd personally question whether you should. A PhD is not worth 5 years of suffering. 

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I cried in a professor's office because of a medical issue (I was dealing with a really bad concussion) and I couldn't do exams or anything. It was mortifying and I was trying to keep it together, but he was very kind (and knew me from undergrad). It happens.

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In undergraduate studies, I ended up crying an office maybe 2 times. Typically, this occurred with professors I'm very close with, and I don't want to disappoint. Each time the professors were very kind about it, and I was given the impression it wasn't entirely unusual. They often offered excellent support by relieving some of the burden of the situation. 

I graduate school, I ended up crying once in front of a professor. It actually really improved the relationship. The professor hadn't realized that the way he was communicating with me was coming across mean and dissatisfied, and we came to an understanding. 

I do find it embarrassing that I couldn't keep it totally professional, but I'm certain they recognize the stress we are under during graduate school (especially when we are first adjusting). 

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5 hours ago, Dalmatian said:

Has anyone here ever cried in front of a professor? Or have you ever had a student cry in front of you? 

Today I cried in front of a professor for the first time ever (though I slightly teared up once before with another prof). I've been struggling academically and during a meeting with one of my committee members today, he asked me why I thought I was doing poorly, if I felt unprepared for grad school based on my undergrad experience etc. And in trying to tell him that I regretted choosing the undergrad I did because I thought it was a mistake, I broke down. He was very kind, but I felt completely mortified. I never cry in front of anyone, including my therapist! I hope he doesn't think I was trying to garner sympathy. It was definitely an unplanned and unwanted response on my part. 

I am about to finish my PhD (fingers crossed). I myself have never cried in front of my advisors, but I have seen other PhD students who broke down and cried. One of my PhD friends cried because she could not find a reagent that she needed for an experiment! Of course, that was when she was under a lot of stress to finish (she was falling behind). She also cried when the school's academic committee investigated why she could not submit by the 4-year mark. As fuzzylogician says, it is good that your professor handled that well. You know, some men do freak out when they see tears! Everyone gets bad days from time to time, so things like these are understandable. My main advisor yelled at me once months ago when he had a bad day. 

If you are concerned how he perceives you because of that, perhaps find a time and explain to him that somehow you had a bad day. I suggest that when you are caught up in a situation like this in future, excuse yourself to the bathroom. Calm yourself down for 5 or 10 min before going back to the meeting. Do that when you feel the tears are coming! 

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5 hours ago, fuzzylogician said:

@Berk Oh, that really doesn't sound healthy for someone in their first semester. I would strongly advise you to look for support elsewhere, be it through moving to another lab/supervisor or by simply finding a mentor who isn't your advisor. It can be an advanced student, a faculty member, maybe someone in a specialized support group (those exist!). But don't just keep going like this for too long, because you'll find it very hard to finish, and I'd personally question whether you should. A PhD is not worth 5 years of suffering. 

Second what fuzzylogician said. I went through something similar to what you described the past year, and I have to say that it is hell even if being in this state for 1 year. It is not great when I had to deal with that alone in a foreign country. I only started to feel better these days, when my dissertation is completed and being copy-edited. You should find ways to deal with your stress, especially when you are so early on in your PhD. Personally, I see a psychologist regularly back home. She herself did a PhD in the US, so she can totally relate to the stress and difficulties of the PhD journey. 

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@fuzzylogician and @Hope.for.the.best thank you very much. Honestly, I just feel numb and don't want to do anything anymore. It makes me feel so sad to see myself in this kind of situation. I am planning to transfer Neuroscience Ph.D. but I have an exercise science background. I have shared the details of my education background below. Can you please share your thoughts with me? What are my chances for getting accepted to neuroscience? I appreciate the help. 

Just give you an idea on my background, I did my bachelors in Sports Sciences with the GPA of 3.54. I had one peer review publication 3 poster presentation in international conferences. For non-academic activities, I was involved in Special Olympics Organization for 4 years. Then, I came to the US and studied a year of Medical Assisting and then got accepted to Nutrition and Exercise Science master's degree at CUNY. I took 26 credit worth of prerequisite courses including biochem, organic chem, anatomy 1 and 2 physiology 1 and 2 etc. I collected the data for my thesis at Columbia University. We investigated the influence of task constraints on upper and lower body modifications in children with Cerebral Palsy. Also, I did my internship at Columbia at applied physiology lab. We investigated whether exercise can attenuate the side effects of antiretroviral therapy in people with HIV. I turned the study into an abstract presentation and presented at a conference. In addition, I was involved in another study at Columbia where we studied on people HIV again. 

Then I got accepted to PhD in Exercise Physiology and co-wrote a paper on exercise genomics and wrote another one as a first author. I have been involved in a major project where I do extensive heart rate variability analysis in firefighters. Further, I was involved in a meta-analysis on hypertension.

EDUCATION

BA: Sports Sciences (BA): 3.54 GPA

MS: Nutrition and Exercise Sciences 3.77 GPA (research assistant)

PhD Exercise Physiology: 3.83 GPA (research assistant) -- I want to transfer to Neuroscience 

CERTIFICATIONS

Exercise Physiologist of American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM-EP-C)

Healthcare Provider of American Heart Association 

PUBLICATIONS

3 peer review publications + 5 poster presentations + involved in 3 other studies but not had my name on the papers.

GRE: 149/154, AW:3.5  

SOCIAL EXPERIENCE

Special Olympics 

Played professional soccer for 7 years.

 

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7 hours ago, Berk said:

@fuzzylogician and @Hope.for.the.best thank you very much. Honestly, I just feel numb and don't want to do anything anymore. It makes me feel so sad to see myself in this kind of situation. I am planning to transfer Neuroscience Ph.D. but I have an exercise science background. I have shared the details of my education background below. Can you please share your thoughts with me? What are my chances for getting accepted to neuroscience? I appreciate the help. 

I am also from a science field, and I know that it is very difficult to publish, so your academic profile looks very good (3 publications). However, it is hard to advise your chances of being accepted, as I have no knowledge of the school you are applying to. The one thing that concerns me (potentially the selection commitee) is whether you can stay on to the program and finish your PhD, if you are accepted. I know you don't like your current program, and it is perfectly fine to transfer, but somehow you need to convince the committee that it is what you want. That is something you need to consider regardless. We do make choices that we later find unsuitable, but we don't mean to choose something that we don't like in the first place. The committe may see you as someone who gives up easily. 

You also need to think about your plan if you don't get accepted to neuroscience. Can you address the issues that make you want to quit the current program? It is worth talking to your program coordibator and school counsellor about that. If doing a PhD is something that you want, then it doesn't really matter what program you are in. Of course, you need to do a project that you don't hate, but not necessary the one that you like the most. You can always do other projects after your PhD. Doing a PhD in exercise physiology does not mean you have to stick to that for life! 

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