This afternoon I came across an Atlantic article entitled “Why Do So Many Graduate Students Quit?” The first hypothesis, offered as the “standard rationale” (!), suggested mental illness, but then pointed out that this research is debatable. The article concludes, instead, that it is the “culture” of graduate programs that leads so many graduate students to quit:
The culture of Ph.D. programs can make some students snap, according to Karen Kelsky, a former tenured professor and academic career coach. In fact, she said in an email, “it isn’t usually a snap so much as a gradual disintegration.” Ph.D. programs are extremely lonely and based on a culture of critique rather than support in which professors and peers constantly look for weaknesses in the doctoral student’s arguments, she said.
During Kelsky’s 15 years as a tenured professor and advisor, she witnessed many students toil in solitude on their dissertations…
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