Saturday, October 18, 2014

Confessions of a Grad School Dropout

Two years ago, after years of hard work, I began a PhD program in Counseling Psychology. I was 22 years old, self-confident, and up until the point when I started graduate school, a "perfect" student. When I left, I was 23 years old, lost, and defeated. In that year, I made the most difficult decision of my life by looking deep within myself and deciding not to complete my PhD.






In Confessions of a Grad School Dropout, my new E-book, I attempt to explain, inform, warn, comfort, and encourage other students in making their own decisions to attend school. The experiences of students and the research of professionals have guided the production of this book. Most people can understand why one might want to go to graduate school, but only a few can understand why students choose to leave. This book is meant to allow understanding in all people of the break-down that often leads up to and follows the decision to leave.






Graduate school is something that is increasingly needed and increasingly attended, and yet, little is known about the hidden, sometimes taboo, experiences us academics face. Students go to graduate school clueless and overconfident and as many as 50% will never finish. My hope for my book is that the information in it will help to diminish high attrition rates and give students the information needed to be confident and informed as they depart on their graduate school journeys.






Not only for students, Confessions of a Grad School Dropout is a self-help for anyone who wants to feel passion for what they do, every day. For anyone who has gone too far down the wrong path. For anyone who has hit their own personal Bottom. More than anything, this book is to help, to guide - the same goal as I have now as a future social worker. I put my heart into it - So read & spread the word!






My book is officially out on Bookcounty, as well as on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and processing on all the other major online sellers. However, I actually benefit most from purchases made on Bookcountry, which can be read on all electronic devices J






http://bookstore.bookcountry.com/Products/SKU-000968004/Confessions-of-a-Grad-School-Dropout.aspx






http://www.amazon.com/Confessions-Grad-School-Dropout-Graduate-ebook/dp/B00NWQOY92/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1411935793&sr=8-1&keywords=confessions+of+a+grad+school+dropout






http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/confessions-of-a-grad-school-dropout-brittany-stahnke-couturier/1120400177?ean=9781468950861









"An honest and too often unspoken account of one grad student's journey not only into and out of grad school but in finding herself. Not only for the student, but pertinent to anyone who has once, or should, change paths" Charles Pascal, PhD, author of Too Far From Perfect “Confessions of a Grad School Dropout is a candid account of Brittany Stahnke Couturier’s journey through academia. Her examples not only of her own experience but of others, sometimes tragic, are a strongly recommended read for anyone considering a graduate program. She addresses the journey in such a way that the reader is guided through a very realistic decision-making process.” M.C.V. Egan, author of The Bridge of Deaths "This book is for anyone who wants to live an authentic life." Elizabeth Vrato, author of The Counselors

Friday, October 3, 2014

Confessions of a Grad School Dropout



Two years ago, after years of hard work, I began a PhD program in Counseling Psychology. I was 22 years old, self-confident, and up until the point when I started graduate school, a "perfect" student. When I left, I was 23 years old, lost, and defeated. In that year, I made the most difficult decision of my life by looking deep within myself and deciding not to complete my PhD.






In Confessions of a Grad School Dropout, my new E-book, I attempt to explain, inform, warn, comfort, and encourage other students in making their own decisions to attend school. The experiences of students and the research of professionals have guided the production of this book. Most people can understand why one might want to go to graduate school, but only a few can understand why students choose to leave. This book is meant to allow understanding in all people of the break-down that often leads up to and follows the decision to leave.






Graduate school is something that is increasingly needed and increasingly attended, and yet, little is known about the hidden, sometimes taboo, experiences us academics face. Students go to graduate school clueless and overconfident and as many as 50% will never finish. My hope for my book is that the information in it will help to diminish high attrition rates and give students the information needed to be confident and informed as they depart on their graduate school journeys.






Not only for students, Confessions of a Grad School Dropout is a self-help for anyone who wants to feel passion for what they do, every day. For anyone who has gone too far down the wrong path. For anyone who has hit their own personal Bottom. More than anything, this book is to help, to guide - the same goal as I have now as a future social worker. I put my heart into it - So read & spread the word!






My book is officially out on Bookcounty, as well as on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and processing on all the other major online sellers. However, I actually benefit most from purchases made on Bookcountry, which can be read on all electronic devices J






http://bookstore.bookcountry.com/Products/SKU-000968004/Confessions-of-a-Grad-School-Dropout.aspx






http://www.amazon.com/Confessions-Grad-School-Dropout-Graduate-ebook/dp/B00NWQOY92/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1411935793&sr=8-1&keywords=confessions+of+a+grad+school+dropout






http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/confessions-of-a-grad-school-dropout-brittany-stahnke-couturier/1120400177?ean=9781468950861









"An honest and too often unspoken account of one grad student's journey not only into and out of grad school but in finding herself. Not only for the student, but pertinent to anyone who has once, or should, change paths" Charles Pascal, PhD, author of Too Far From Perfect “Confessions of a Grad School Dropout is a candid account of Brittany Stahnke Couturier’s journey through academia. Her examples not only of her own experience but of others, sometimes tragic, are a strongly recommended read for anyone considering a graduate program. She addresses the journey in such a way that the reader is guided through a very realistic decision-making process.” M.C.V. Egan, author of The Bridge of Deaths "This book is for anyone who wants to live an authentic life." Elizabeth Vrato, author of The Counselors

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Confessions of a Grad School Dropout


I wanted to announce the publication of my E-book, Confessions of a Grad School Dropout.


I wrote this book during my time in my PhD program, 2012-2013 and have been researching and editing ever since. It is officially live on Bookcountry and can be read on all electronic devices. It is processing now with Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and all other major electronic sellers. However, I do get the most benefit from purchases made on Bookcountry. Please read & spread the word! A narrative describing this book is below.


http://bookstore.bookcountry.com/Products/SKU-000968004/Confessions-of-a-Grad-School-Dropout.aspx

___________________



Two years ago, after years of hard work, I began a PhD program in Counseling Psychology. I was 22 years old, self-confident, and up until the point when I started graduate school, a "perfect" student. When I left, I was 23 years old, lost, and defeated. In that year, I made the most difficult decision of my life by looking deep within myself and deciding not to complete my PhD.



In Confessions of a Grad School Dropout, my new E-book, I attempt to explain, inform, warn, comfort, and encourage other students in making their own decisions to attend school. The experiences of students and the research of professionals have guided the production of this book. Most people can understand why one might want to go to graduate school, but only a few can understand why students choose to leave. This book is meant to allow understanding in all people of the break-down that often leads up to and follows the decision to leave.



Graduate school is something that is increasingly needed and increasingly attended, and yet, little is known about the hidden, sometimes taboo, experiences us academics face. Students go to graduate school clueless and overconfident and as many as 50% will never finish. My hope for my book is that the information in it will help to diminish high attrition rates and give students the information needed to be confident and informed as they depart on their graduate school journeys.



Not only for students, Confessions of a Grad School Dropout is a self-help for anyone who wants to feel passion for what they do, every day. For anyone who has gone too far down the wrong path. For anyone who has hit their own personal Bottom. More than anything, this book is to help, to guide - the same goal as I have now as a future social worker. I put my heart into it - So read & spread the word!

Monday, August 25, 2014

New Published Book

I am excited to say that in just a couple weeks, my ebook regarding my grad school experiences will be released! It will be available on all of the top sales sites, and priced at $4.99!

Confessions of a Grad School Dropout is an extension of ideas I write about here on my blog, serving to offer support and knowledge regarding the entire graduate school process - for those who have left and those considering attending.



Sunday, June 8, 2014

Lend a Helping Hand

Even with the worst of memories and situations, I would declare that it always helps to use our pain to help others. I'm not sure if it ever makes up for what we've been through, but it certainly makes us see the good through the bad. It may even allow us to look back and leave regret behind.

When leaving or thinking of leaving grad school, it is easy to look back and hate where we put ourselves or the choice to leave it. Our choices put us in a very bad place, or maybe we have no good choice but to leave and we instead regret smaller choices that led us there. But pain can always be used to further good causes, if we choose to leave our bitterness behind.

Anyone is welcome to contact me with their own story to share on our blog. You can help by reaching out and letting another drop out be comforted with the knowledge that they are not alone, that there are other people just like them out there.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Application process



For those of you preparing to apply to grad school, a little support and guidance...

Some of my "back-up" schools, in other words the schools that I was overqualified for in every way, rejected me flat out. Since I looked outstanding on paper in all the ways I was expected to be outstanding, as did my friend, it must have been due to one or more biases. It could be that I said one thing in my essay that turned one reviewer off. It could be that I came from a university that isn't well-known around the country, and the other applicants came from better known ones. It could be that I was married. It could be anything. There are no safe bets when applying to graduate school.


I remember that one school asked the tricky question of what "kinds" of people we would have trouble helping due to our own biases; now, I couldn't respond with a laissez faire, loving attitude, because it would be very untrue and the school would have known it. We all have biases. My best advice to students is to always have an answer with support and explanation. I responded by saying I would have difficulty helping someone who had a bias against myself, somebody who looked down on me in some way. As a feminist, this is the truth; I feel all people deserve respect, and I have never had an easy time accepting someone who openly feels I do not deserve equal respect, opportunities, and courtesies. Who knows if this was a great answer, but I felt that with this question, they may have been trying to weed out a lot of applicants by asking a tough question and possibly looking for a specific answer (or turning away specific answers). I didn’t get an interview.

Never underestimate the costs of applying to grad school. Yes, the financial burden comes before you even get accepted and hit the front gates. During my first application process, I spent $800. The second year, I spent $1300…on applications alone. This includes application fees (usually at least $50 a pop), sending transcripts (from all undergraduate schools attended, even if only one class was at a different school), sending necessary test scores, giving mailing materials to your recommenders, and snail-mailing application materials to each school. I spent an additional $1000, approximately, preparing and taking my GRE twice. This also does not include over $1000 total I spent on visiting the schools. Some schools offer free stays at current students' homes during the interviews to ease financial burdens. As kind as this is, this does not help all that much. Visiting campuses is not generally required for master's programs, though obviously, it is recommended that you visit the campus and the program before making a choice to dedicate the next few years of your life to it.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

A new leaf

We all have bad experiences in life. Divorce, death of loved ones, and the acceptance of our shortcomings. Less often, we have experiences that change us. Events that leave us forever altered. There's good and bad in everything, and with such massive change, the bad can be more obvious. However, we can choose to see any event as a positive one.

I have an older friend who has gone through things most people can't even think about. One of these things was the loss of her 19 year-old daughter to a car accident. She is one of the most inspiring and positive people I know; she feels the horrible things that have happened but doesn't give in to her suffering - she may not be glad of what happened to her, but she will openly admit that she knows the purpose of her daughter's death. She accepts the worst thing that ever happened to her as necessary to her own growth. 

For some of us, the loss of a job can be worse than the death of a parent. Everyone's life-changing experience is different and it's impossible to determine how any one experience affects any one person. My experience leaving graduate school changed my life forever.  It was my most traumatic time but I choose to associate it also with my most profound and life-saving time as well. And I encourage all of you to do the same. 

Sunday, May 11, 2014

The Role of Attrition

Whenever I talked about attrition (drop-out) rates with people, they are appalled. People drop out, and the programs think "what can we do to admit better students?" instead of the question they need to ask: "what can this program due to keep our students?"

It is required for schools to have attrition rates posted on their website. However, they tend to fall off sometimes at opportune times, such as during interviews. When I finally found my school's attrition rates, I realized they would lose 2 or 3 students per year, out of 5 or 6 - almost 50%. I realized this only a few weeks in, and I realized I was going to be the first one to step out in my year. A year later, 3 were gone of the 5 that were admitted. One had done a PhD for her parents when she actually wanted to go to law school. Another realized she wanted to have an actual life sometime in the next five years, get married, have kids.

There are countless reasons that people leave. However, the difference between various programs' rates demonstrates the severity of issues with programs specifically. Programs with set times, such as law schools and medical schools, have attrition rates often in the single digits. Social sciences can be as high as 40% while humanities often hovers around 29%. Further, different schools can have very different rates.

I suggest that anyone investing their time, money, and life into a program do the research. You have a right to know what you are getting into.


1.      http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2007/07/17/PhD


Sunday, May 4, 2014

Who are we without our closed-minded, narrow versions of "success"?

I have never been a girl who wanted to be told she is beautiful. Based on my experience, this is pretty unusual. When someone compliments my work or intelligence, this is the greatest compliment I can receive. We all take pride in different things. For me, obviously, it was my academic success; I even have a tattoo of a Norwegian proverb meaning "the best kind of luggage is knowledge." For some, their children are their pride. Others, their looks. In my experience, pride is only okay in very small doses, and it often ruins our experience with the areas in which we take our pride. We push ourselves or others hard, and one day, our pride in one thing has caused negative affects in other areas of our lives. Too much energy towards one thing is never a good thing. Pride leads to expectation which can often lead to disappointment and desperation.


Because of the pride I had in being the best I could be in school, I allowed such passions as photography and writing to be forgotten, allowed this motivation to become more important than anyone in my life, dragged myself through two years of applications and moving my husband and I across state lines all to satisfy this sense of pride. When what I truly wanted, to help, could be done with a lot less school and less rigorous a program. But where would I be without my continued academic success, without becoming a doctor?

And we've all seen it dozens of times. Person pushes themselves too hard in a goal, and they lose everything they mistreated and neglected for so long. And then it hits them - they need it all back, and it may or may not be too late. The thing they need most - love and respect for themselves and what they have become - is gone as well.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Strengths in the Weakness



“All the adversity I’ve had in my life, all my troubles and obstacles, have strengthened me… You may not realize it when it happens, but a kick in the teeth may be the best thing in the world for you.”

-Walt Disney



And this is true for all of us. No matter how aware we are, how on top of things in our lives, we make mistakes and there are points when we need a "kick" to fix the things we have damaged. Some things may be beyond fixing, but for careers and a life's purpose, it is never too late.

And it's like that with everything. The people who still don't understand the good that comes from the sickness, death, slavery, and the horrible personal struggles in the world haven't had this kick, this realization of how struggle can strengthen. However, in terms of people's lives, struggle can also weaken us, if we let it. There is always a point when somebody makes that choice between letting a struggle defeat them or letting it strengthen them.

I may have chosen the unpredictable path of a classic academic by not only not pursuing, but dropping out of a PhD program, the highest academic degree one could get in psychology, but I am still me. Don't allow the labels and the actions associated with those labels to overpower you. People now, as they always did, look at me, a passionate student, and say "you're going to have five PhDs and you still won't be done" and I say "no, I will not," and I know this. Because that is not my path, there are many paths for each passion. Mine is no longer making the long and arduous climb up without a top in sight, but strolling along and grasping at everything I see along the way.