Graduate School, Ph.D. and Study Abroad is not for the faint of heart. Here’s a true and shocking story of a student dismissed from Ph.D. program at Texas A&M at College Station.
First, I want you to read the following experience and at the end I have my thoughts and what you can do to avoid getting dismissed from college or university when you study abroad.
Here’s the Story of Dismissal:
I completed my B.E in Agricultural and Irrigation Engineering at College of Engineering, Guindy, Anna University, Chennai.
I’m a 2013 pass out with a CGPA of 8.67. I got admitted in Texas A&M University, College Station for a Ph.D. program in Biological and Agricultural Engineering for the Fall ’13 semester (admitted for Ph.D. after Bachelors Degree). I was promised funding after starting my course only so technically I was a self-supporting student.
The first semester was okay, but I just made a 2.67 which put me in academic probation. My advisor wasn’t supportive of me with the funding, which put me under a lot of pressure. He even discouraged me saying I’m not fit for a Ph.D. even without assessing my abilities. I hadn’t started my research work according to his plan. I was doing well in the second semester.
Everything went fine until the last two weeks of my semester. Two of my course grades were solely dependent on my project (which I was working on my laptop due to the type of data used).
My luck was so bad that my laptop crashed during the finals, leaving me helpless. My professors weren’t willing to give me an extension. So I ended up getting poor grades again.
One of them gave me an F grade. I hadn’t told my family about the ordeal I was going through since they would be worried. They were already unhappy about me not having any funding.
I got a job in the library as a night shift worker in the third semester. I was getting confident that I could support myself financially, but I put my health at risk.
I was falling ill frequently.
Depression set in. I couldn’t bring up my GPA. So I gave up on my plans of doing a Ph.D.
My advisor initially persuaded me in doing my Master’s only though he was the one who encouraged me to apply for the direct Ph.D. program at TAMU. So I decided to file my degree plan as a Non-thesis Master’s student because of my poor performance and low self-esteem.
My professor declined to approve my degree plan. I retook some of the courses to improve my grades and again submitted my degree plan.
The fourth semester was much better for me. I was confident and made a 3.4. I went up to my advisor and told him that I’m able to show improvement and that I’m lot more confident about finishing my degree. He didn’t give any input then. After that, I came to India in summer to visit my family. I went back and started working on my research topic.
It was around the last week of August that my professor again rejected my degree plan. It put me at the risk of dismissal since I didn’t have a major professor. And my academic records were bad. I begged him for a chance, but he didn’t communicate with me.
[x_pullquote type=”left”]I got the dismissal letter on August 23rd, 8 days before the start of the fall 15 semester.[/x_pullquote]
I had just five days in hand to think about changing school, changing department within TAMU or getting enrolled in a community college.
One of my professors from another department was willing to serve my major professor, but I had to get admitted into the Geography department. They wouldn’t accept transfer within the short time frame.
So I had exhausted all my options including the appeal. It was hard for me to give up since only this year was I confident about myself.
I have never failed in school or during my undergrad. I have never been depressed but for two years, I went through hell. But things went wrong in the end. So I spoke to my International students advisor and decided to leave the country on September 3rd (my deadline was September 5th).
So this is pretty much my story.
I am back in Chennai. I appeared for a few job interviews and got placed in Zifotech Pvt. Ltd as a Data Analyst.But I will start working in Jan 2016 only. I’ve applied for GATE 2016 just to make sure I have a backup plan to complete my Master’s degree.
Please let me know if I have any chances of re-applying and getting admitted for MS in the US. I know this is too late, but I still feel guilty of having missed a golden opportunity. It’s like an unfulfilled wish for my parents and me. Any input will greatly help. Thank you!
That was the student’s story.
What went wrong here?
Who to blame? The Student or the Professor?
Here’re my take and observations:
About Promised Funding: You have to understand that Professors are not going to hand over the money to any student. They want to see your performance. Based on what you have described, the professor did not see the potential in you.
Laptop Crash: Always have backups of your work. When you are working on a project, plan to have three backups at the minimum. When you have a string of negative events happen to you, you have to be extra cautious. Take a step back, slow down and plan your moves carefully.
Part-Time Jobs: It’s difficult to perform when you are under pressure to earn money. Looking ate what has been written about,
- Pressure to get funding
- Pressure from parents
- Pressure to perform
- Promised funding wasn’t given to you
- Low Grades
- Night Shift job
- Depression and falling sick.
- Cultural shock in new country
Studying Abroad is not going to be a walk in the park for everyone. You are going to have ebbs and flows.
Stories like these are common among students studying abroad.
I have seen average and below average students get into a university that requires higher academic skills and ability to be a “Grade B” level student.
It’s hard to say if the person sharing this experience lacks academic ability, but the person didn’t perform as expected. When you are in Texas A&M, you are supposed to perform at a high level from Day 1. You have to impress the professors with your research findings and solving problems for them.
PhD is not for everyone. You may have to complete Masters and then move on to PhD. Ask these 15 Questions to Ask before applying for PhD.
In Study Abroad environment, you have your expectations and assumptions. When your progress and achievements are not meeting your expectations, you feel the pressure. Combined with financial difficulties and whole new foreign country environment equates to low performance.
As an International student’s in the Graduate School are expected to maintain GPA of 3.0 or more.
If your GPA falls below 3.0, you will be put on Academic Probation. That’s what happened to this person. Followed by to failed grades to dismissal from the college.
This person studies Bachelors in Top Engineering College in Tamil Nadu, India. When there’s student is trained to be an engineer from a Top Engineering college you would have high expectations and see that take off in their Graduate School and Career.
But, that wasn’ the case here.
As you can see, the student with excellent credentials crumble under pressure, but that shouldn’t define you as a person.
You should learn right lessons from this and move on.
My advice, in general, are not on those lines of “you did you best, and it didn’t’ work out and probably America wasn’t the right choice”.
I think like this “That’s all right, now what should you do next to avoid the same result in the future.”
Failure is an experience. The story you tell yourself about failure is what that will define your next step and progress.
Whether you are going to hold-on to this or learn and grow depends on what story you tell yourself about this experience.
How to Overcome Difficulties?
You should develop the mental stubbornness to handle such situations.
Each and every student studying abroad is likely to face similar situations.
Stay motivated internally. If you feel down, get help. find ways to stay motivated. Learn to mange your time.
How you handle and respond to challenges and stressful situations will define you.