I am really starting to struggle in my program.  It has been five years and tens of thousands of dollars.  I am starting to feel like giving up.  Help!?

–In Too Deep??

Dear In Too Deep,

First of all, know that you are not alone. Countless other grad students have felt, are feeling, and will continue to feel like throwing in the towel and being done with their dissertations and school in general.

However, I am here to encourage and lift you, and others, up so that you don’t feel this way anymore. Again, everyone struggles with this issue of feeling drained and distressed, but a few things can help in finding your second wind: remembering why you decided to start this in the first place, knowing that you will actually graduate, and looking at the rest of your journey.

Do you remember the time you decided to go for your doctorate? If you can’t remember the day and time, I’m sure you still remember the feeling of pride you had when you thought about earning your diploma and researching your chosen topic for years to come. Wherever you are in your program, you haven’t come all this way to give up on that original dream. Once the day that you’ve pictured in your head comes, it will be worth the time and money you’ve spent – I promise.

No one walks across the stage, grabs their diploma, and says, “I wish I didn’t earn my doctorate.” In fact, if you decide to end your journey here, you will most likely look back at this time and tell yourself that you could have kept going and would have been fine. Don’t allow yourself to have regrets later if you are able to take care of them now.

Now that you’ve looked to the past and to the distant future, I want you to look at your present and near future. Look at where you are in relation to where you need to be to complete your PhD program. You are probably at a crucial turning point in your process, which are some of the most difficult areas of graduate school to conquer. Please feel encouraged knowing that this is an important place for your perseverance.

–René M Paulson, PhD 


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