Why did you leave graduate school?

In summary: The jobs that are best suited for a PhD are also the same jobs that are best suited for people without a PhD. In summary, many people who have left graduate school without a PhD find interesting and fulfilling careers outside of academia.
  • #1
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This question is geared towards anyone who started off graduate school, but decided not to continue. I especially want to hear from physics people, but anyone!

After reading some threads and stumbling on an article that had short anecdotes of people who decided to leave graduate, I sort of wanted to hear from more people.

This is the article: https://chroniclevitae.com/news/445...ph-d-students-reflect-on-why-they-jumped-ship

This , in particular, from the article echoes often:

"Though I had dreams of going into academia, I noticed that the instructors never discussed any other type of career path for us. At the same time, they would talk about how bleak the academic job market was. Then I began to question whether I would be able to land a job when I started applying for faculty positions. If they didn’t have hope, I thought, why should I?"

Also this very recent thread requirements for career in academia: https://www.physicsforums.com/threa...r-requirements-change-in-recent-years.788165/

For the record, I am still applying to graduate school: PhD Physics and Master's in Engineering. I have not completely decided which career path to take so I am just giving myself options.
 
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  • #2
Money, a job/career, and a daughter on the way.

Update/Edit: I should add that my first job out of grad school was a unique opportunity (including frequent travel to Europe and Asia, as well as throughout the US), which lead to other unique opportunities through some invaluable experience.
 
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  • #3
I left because it wasn't justifiable to continue. The years of additional work didn't appear to result in much improvement in either my job prospects or my personal well-being. I decided a masters was the sweet spot and headed out.
 
  • #4
Thank you for the responses! I'm glad I am taking more time to figure out my career this time around. Didn't spend too much time on this when I was in undergrad.
 
  • #5
bluechic92 said:
Thank you for the responses! I'm glad I am taking more time to figure out my career this time around. Didn't spend too much time on this when I was in undergrad.
I know/knew several people who have gone on to interesting careers after leaving graduate school sans PhD. I think in most cases, the people who don't finish are the ones who see that for what they really want to do, the PhD does not matter. The people I know/knew went to work for tech companies [Amazon and Wofram in their early days...] In the private sector, I believe that you are judged much more for what you can do, not the beauty of your credentials.

The PhD matters most for jobs where the "credentialism" is important -- higher ed; some government jobs, some private sector jobs, etc. Having a PhD is also no longer a guarantee of employment into the positions where it is required.

Bottom line: People should do the PhD because they want to do the PhD. It is no guarantee of a particular job.
 

1. Why did you decide to leave graduate school?

There are many reasons why someone may leave graduate school. Some common reasons include financial constraints, personal or family obligations, changing interests or career goals, or struggles with mental health. Ultimately, it is a personal decision and may vary from person to person.

2. Did you not enjoy your program or the research?

It is possible that someone may leave graduate school because they did not enjoy their program or research. However, this is not always the case. Sometimes, other factors such as financial issues or personal obligations may play a larger role in the decision to leave.

3. Did you have a difficult relationship with your advisor or colleagues?

While it is important to have a positive relationship with your advisor and colleagues in graduate school, it is not always the reason someone may choose to leave. Other factors, such as personal or financial reasons, may have a bigger impact on the decision to leave.

4. Did you feel like you weren't making progress or meeting expectations?

Feeling like you are not making progress or meeting expectations can be a common reason for leaving graduate school. However, it is important to note that this may not always be within the student's control. Factors such as lack of resources or support can also contribute to this feeling.

5. Do you regret leaving graduate school?

Every person's experience with graduate school is unique, and their decision to leave is also personal. While some may regret their decision to leave, others may feel that it was the best choice for them at the time. It is important to respect and support an individual's decision, regardless of whether they regret it or not.

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