Welcome to College Confidential!

The leading college-bound community on the web

Sign Up For Free

Join for FREE, and start talking with other members, weighing in on community polls, and more.

Also, by registering and logging in you'll see fewer ads and pesky welcome messages (like this one!)

As a CC member, you can:

How to drop out of Grad school gracefully?

mcimmcim Posts: 202Registered User Junior Member
edited March 2009 in Graduate School
So I'm going through the first year of grad school and I've figured out its not for me. I did alright academically first semester and this second semester I've figured out alot about my skills, abilities, interests and limitations. What I'm studying isn't really what I want to do with the rest of my life!
My situation:
a MS thesis engineering student, 1st yr
taking 3 classes, 1 for research, 2 others general classes
1 month left of classes, pretty much on the verge of failing them

So I have an advisor starting the 2nd semester and am doing a little bit of research. I'm not really interested in finishing my MS degree but I have 6 more years to do it in case I want to make myself look more valuable or somehow change my mind. I'm not doing well in my classes and I'm just not interested in them at all.
Questions:
Should I drop my classes? All of them?
How should I tell my advisor that I'm gonna drop out? Its kind of weird!
What should I do next? I don't have any jobs lined up, economy is in the dumps, I have several ideas of what I want to do but not sure where I'm headed!

Thanks for any advise and support.
Post edited by mcim on

Replies to: How to drop out of Grad school gracefully?

  • cosmicfishcosmicfish Posts: 3,430Registered User Senior Member
    Can you power through it? If you are an MS student you should be able to get through in just another year or two. If you drop out know it is unlikely anyone else will admit you in the future.

    There are jobs out there, but it is not a great time to be looking. If you can hold the line and push through this, you will be a lot better off. Remember that masters degrees do not set your future in stone - if you want to change course professionally or for PhD that will not be a problem.
  • tkm256tkm256 Posts: 1,847Registered User Senior Member
    Well, to the question "How should I tell my advisor that I'm gonna drop out?" I would reply "Say you've found a position in a career field you'd rather pursue at the moment" but you say you haven't found one. Before you go burning your bridges, you need to have a plan. If you don't have a plan, at least you should have a source of income. Yes, the economy is in the dumps, but you wouldn't have landed your dream job right off the bat in the best of times. Scour the ads for positions that are at the bottom rung of one of those "several ideas" and apply like crazy.

    If you're not interested in your classes, and I assume not interested in engineering, how would an MS in the discipline "make you look more valuable" to employers? If you're going to do something else, there's no point spending your money on an inapplicable degree. And what good would dropping out of only a few classes do? Either you're in this or you're not.

    Fortunately, you're an MS student and not a PhD, so people aren't sinking money into you or counting on you to stay (you don't have students, you're not in a position of importance in the research group, etc). After assembling a plan of action for summer, approach your advisor and say "You've probably noticed, but this isn't working out. I don't think I belong in this field, and am going to pursue X at Y." Let him/her/the school know now so they know there's an extra vacancy for next year and some happy soul who really wants to be in engineering can be accepted.
  • sctrojan06sctrojan06 Posts: 38Registered User Junior Member
    If you have only one month left, it would probably be a good idea to finish your coursework. A month could be enough time to catch up. I guess you just have to decide if it is worth it, but it is possible that you could regret dropping with only a month left.
    You won't be the first student to decide that graduate school isn't right for you. If you are certain about your decision, you need to figure out the action plan that works best for you.
  • happymomof1happymomof1 Posts: 19,570Registered User Senior Member
    Take a leave of absence. That way, if you decide to come back in a semester or a year you can do so.

    If you really want to, you could request an immediate leave of absence rather than waiting until the end of the semester. But before you do that, consult with the staff at your university to find out whether this semesters grades would be recorded as Incomplete or as Failures. If you don't want to talk to anyone in your department, go to the student mental health counseling office. They will know all of the regulations, and they will be able to maintain your privacy.

    Wishing you all the best!
  • dfh932dfh932 Posts: 86Registered User Junior Member
    The leave of absence sounds like a really good idea.
    And as far as doing it gracefully...I woud tell your advisor that you are having some personal problems.
    Larry David says anyone can get out of anything by saying "it's personal."
    They don't have to know your reasons for leaving...just tell them you think you'll be back after your leave of absence, "some things have come up," and you're really sorrry about everything....
  • sakkysakky Posts: 14,759- Senior Member
    I know that Stanford will grant up to a yearlong medical leave of absence upon request, no questions asked. Your school may offer a similar option. After the year is over, you may then declare that you are still unable to continue.
  • AceflyerAceflyer Posts: 252Registered User Junior Member
    Take a leave of absence. That way, if you decide to come back in a semester or a year you can do so.

    If you really want to, you could request an immediate leave of absence rather than waiting until the end of the semester. But before you do that, consult with the staff at your university to find out whether this semesters grades would be recorded as Incomplete or as Failures. If you don't want to talk to anyone in your department, go to the student mental health counseling office. They will know all of the regulations, and they will be able to maintain your privacy.

    Wishing you all the best!

    I second this. Take a LOA now and then spend some time thinking and reflecting about what you really want to do.
Sign In or Register to comment.