grad school drop-out...

I withdrew from graduate school yesterday. I've been part-time for a year. Don't worry, I only have 9 hours under my belt due to not being able to take classes in the spring.

My friend Ronnie said to me, "Lamb, that's like, a THIRD of the way done!" Yes...okay, it is. BUT, at the rate I've been going it would be a least another two whole years before I could finish (and that's not including writing a thesis).

It hit me the other day, "I'm unhappy!"

It was an enlightening moment when I realized I've been so miserable lately because I'm completely overwhelmed. I can see now that it started months ago, probably around the time I returned from The Abbey. Since then I've been overworked, over-programmed, I haven't had enough "me" time, I don't get enough time to cultivate the relationships that are so important to me, or enough time to volunteer, or enough time to just read for pleasure! There were issues with the house right when I returned from London, I don't feel like I had a break between BSP and walking back into the office Monday (yes, I realize taking the weekend to go to AR in search of a bridesmaid dress was my choice, but also my duty as MOH, and I wanted to go), I've moved three times in less than a year (house, Pontlevoy, London), started graduate school in a program I now realize I "settled" for just to start a degree...

The list goes on but you catch my drift.

I came to the swift realization that I have ZERO interest in spending another moment of my precious time completing a degree I was pursuing "to have a degree". When I asked myself, "why are you in graduate school?" the only answer I could honestly state was, "to put it on my resume?"

WHAT? That's never been me. No, thank you.

Could I continue and complete the degree and do very well in the program? Yes, of course - but I don't WANT to. The professors are wonderful, I will miss being in class, and I was learning a lot, yes, but I have no interest in taking a Communication master's degree anywhere further. So why continue just to finish and be miserable along the way? I even went to the Department's welcome-back-to-school picnic the other day, just to be sure I wasn't having one of my flighty moments...but I didn't waiver.

Before I clicked "the button" - the button that would drop me from ALL classes - I sent an short email to dear friends and family I trust, just asking their thoughts. The reactions were different but similar. Everyone told me to do what is best for me.

Kim called to say, "I don't know why you even sent that email out, the fact that you sent it means you've already made up your mind to do it because you don't talk about things like this unless you've already decided what to do, so why do you care what anyone's opinion is?"

Ha! She's so right!

Sweet Lolly shared her 100-Page-Rule, "I have a 100 Page Rule when I read a book. I give it 100 pages to draw me in. If it doesn't happen by that 100th page - I put it down and give it away. There are too many lovely books to read and my time is too precious to waste." She said that it was clear I had reached my 100-page-limit!

Holly agreed with Lolly - and her response has been my favorite so far, "Finishing for the sake of finishing is no good. Would you finish all the french fries just because they are there - even if you knew it was going to stress you out because you ate them all? Would you drink a bad martini or would you order something else? Would you keep a dress you didn't really like that cost you $200 or would you return it and get a dress that you did like? Would you date a guy you weren't totally in love with just because you invested time and effort or would you "quit" him because that is the right thing to do (we know your answer to this one)? Life is too short. Say adios to this program and do something you like. You are awesome."

So, I did it. I clicked the button yesterday. That was an event in itself. I had to complete a survey questioning why I was leaving - and then a screen popped up sharing all the departments that would be notified of my "dropping out". Luckyday was one of them and I didn't have the option to un-click it even though I don't receive any aid from them anymore. For those of you who don't know, The Luckyday Scholarship is a service-learning-based scholarship I was a part of in undergrad and am now still involved in as part of the Alumni Board. I was instructed to phone the Director PIROR to my completing the withdrawal process. The number listed was Staci's - so I called, and informed her of my decision. I have always been one to follow the rules and do things, "the right way". She said very few students actually call, so I was setting a great example! Thanks Staci :)

At the very end of the survey I was told that personnel from our retention office would be in contact with me over the next 48 hours to discuss my decision.

NOOOOOO! I don't want to TALK about it anymore!

Then it occurred to me that the Office of Retention is down the hall from my office - I KNOW those people! So I marched down to see Dr. Kemker. Laura was on the phone so I walked right into his office, sat down, and the word vomit commenced. I think, by the sight of his grinning the entire time I spoke without breathing, he found amusement in my story?

"Hi, can I come in? I just clicked that button to drop ALL my classes so I'm withdrawing from Graduate School, I'm just not happy and it's the right thing for me to do but I don't want anyone to call me to talk about my decision so I'm here talking to you right now, I'm not a lost student, there's no saving me, I'm dropping out to pursue other opportunities that are more important to me and my life path at this point in time...."

"Hi Jessica, why don't you come on in and have a seat?"

That's when I took a breath. Everything was fine. Dr. Kemker is great, and I slowed down and updated him on what's been happening in my life - it was very therapeutic, actually. Anyway, I don't think anyone will call me, but if they do, I will just tell them the "short" version of all the above.

Will dropping-out of grad school solve all my "issues"? No...I'm sure they run deeper. But at least now I will have more time to do things that I want to be doing, and I feel more in control of my life...

Next step? TEFL certification. I think :)


  1. Wow, Jess! Very proud of you! That was a very difficult decision to make...not many people in our "academic world" are that brave. I am sure that with this stress "en moins" you'll be able to breathe a little and take care of #1...YOU! BTW, you should totally think about writing...this blog entry was quite captivating! Very well written :) Big hugs and can't wait to see you again. xxx Andrew

  2. I think your doing the right thing! you need to have some you time and enjoy life. You got through four years of college thats more than most people can say haha:) and if some day you want to go back then do it. do whatever YOU want! I'm glad you are gonna get to have sometime to settle down though because I can see that you like to be helpful but sometimes we just can't do it all... Hope you have a wonderful Day Jess:)