A short while ago I wrote to my graduate program director to tell him that I would not be continuing with my PhD program.
There are a lot of complex issues involved, financial, changing life circumstances, my naivete and subsequent disappointment with academia, among other things.
I have been unfunded my entire program (being fair to middlin’ in one’s academic work gets you accepted into the program, but doesn’t open up the money truck doors at your doorstep), so I have had to depend upon our own resources, and student loans (mostly student loans). I sought external funding and had some hopeful possibilities that didn’t pan out. But with each passing year, graduate programs are run like for-profit businesses and less like, well, institutions of higher learning.
I have also been disappointed with the political bifurcation of the academy and the politicization of knowledge. And I’m not talking about departmental power grabs. That’s just a fact of life. But this is ideological politicization. Academic speech is so calculated anymore, with few being willing to buck “consensus” for pursuit of the truth. More and more stuff is agenda-driven, with the agenda being some political outcome rather than getting at the core of what’s real (if anyone believes that’s even possible let alone a goal).
And there are just other life-happens sort of things: a growing family, a new job, day-to-day concerns have shifted. I’m thinking much more long term: my daughter’s college (if they desire), possible weddings, a house, and so on.
I don’t shirk the fact that all of my choices, including the pursuit of a PhD in the first place, have brought me to this point. And all of those choices are subject to the constraints of prudential wisdom. If done again, I sure would do things with some significant differences (and much more planning). But we are here and now, not then and when. And this is what I am given to decide.
It is still greatly disappointing. And coupled with the rembrance of the events of last year with my family, and a new rawness with that memory, today is a bit of a struggle.