Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Stories wanted: "I Quit Graduate School in Chemistry"

At the end of Vinylogous' recent excellent post on mental health and graduate school in chemistry, he posited questions that people considering leaving graduate school should consider: 
There's a pervasive thought--"I've already put in 2 years, so it would be a waste of time to quit now." (Or however many years). But time already invested is a sunk cost. It doesn't matter how much time you've put in if you're not going to get anything out of the degree. Only three factors should matter when deciding whether to quit grad school: 
1. Am I happy right now? (Am I mentally healthy? Are there variables I can change about my current situation to make myself happier?) 
2. What is the future benefit of me getting this degree in comparison to not getting it? (is it necessary for your career? Is it limiting?)  
3. What am I missing out on by following through with grad school? (This is known as "opportunity cost" and includes the salary you could collect at a different job, time spent with friends, family, and your SO, traveling while young and unencumbered, etc).  
If the answers to those aren't positive, there's no reason to stay.
I don't feel qualified to talk about these questions and answers at all. Because of that, I would really like to hear from people who left graduate school in chemistry. I'd like to hear:
1. Why did you leave?
2. Your thought process in leaving? Was it deliberate (over a period of time) or sudden?
3. Where are you now?
4. Are you happy after leaving? How does the decision look to you now? 
While you're welcome to put submissions in the comments, I'd be happier to take e-mails for posts later. You know the e-mail address: chemjobber@gmail.com

UPDATE: Me, being an idiot. Confidentiality guaranteed, of course. Publication not until you say "yes, CJ, it is okay to publish."

(I feel like, someday, the blog should have a phone number and a voicemail box. That'd be awesome.) 

1 comment:

  1. Hi... I have been through this and I understand you feelings. I left my phd program after 2 years after completing my qualifying exam. At this point of time I am doing a phd in computer science in the field of graphics and I must say I am happier.