July 12, 2018 at 4:48 pm #216461
I am a foreign student doing an MS degree in the US at an Ivy League in Computer Science. I did not have a major in CS in my undergrad but did take most of the core courses for it, my major was geological science. I already completed one semester out of three of my Master’s (equivalent to 4 out of a total of 10 courses) and will be going back to school for the Fall (this August).
I steered away from geology after taking an internship as an environmental scientist. The work was deeply unfulfilling and boring. And I realized that real field work is not as adventurous and exciting as I imagined it when I selected my major at age 18. Furthermore, it did not open a lot of doors and caused me a lot of trouble when trying to find a job after graduation.
Computer Science, on the other hand, was challenging, could lead to a huge array of opportunities, and would earn me a promising future in the US (including the right to immigrate permanently). So I decided to apply to several schools for graduate study in CS. I was very nervous about taking that leap because I did not have as much experience in CS as many other people who actually majored in it. While I did take most of the core courses in CS in my undergrad I never took any advanced courses and had only studied it for about two years.
While I applied to grad school, I taught myself web development and quite enjoyed it. Furthermore, I was usually pretty good at CS (and really anything I ever put my mind to); I have always been a pretty good student.
When I was admitted into a top program (in addition to every university I applied for), I was excited and took the offer right away. However, about halfway into the semester I began to have a nervous breakdown. I was so overworked and exhausted all the time that I began to suffer from very high levels of anxiety. It got bad enough that I considered dropping out. With the help of my family, friends, and a counselor, I managed to push through and finish the semester with alright grades. I got permission to reduce my course load for the following semesters without affecting my graduation date so I could keep a better work-life balance.
For the summer, I decided to not seek internships because I needed to do some catching up on mathematics prerequisites for some of the courses I have yet to take for my degree. So I flew home to get it done and also to recover from a horrific semester. I have been self-studying using online resources and it has been going well so far (despite how time consuming it has been).
Lately I haven’t been feeling completely comfortable with the idea of going back to grad school. I will be taking less courses but I am terrified of undergoing the kind of anxiety I felt once again. I am exhausted from how much studying I have had to do over break and scared of how difficult the courses I have to take are going to be. The idea of dropping out seems comforting but that would be the end of my US immigration story, my current career path, and would be a dramatic twist for my plans so far. Additionally, I put huge amounts of effort and money into this graduate program, plus I’m four tenths done.
I forgot to mention that I am a Colombian citizen, even though I’ve spent most of my life in the US. I am scared of being forced to move back to Colombia and adapt. On the other hand, staying in the MS program and hoping things will go well will help me establish a career at something I am good at and enjoy (with the exception of last semester).
I am 24 and I am tired of living off of my parent’s money. I want an independent and successful life and there seems to be extremely unexpected and very large challenges at every corner. I know that I am capable of completing the degree, but will the suffering (anticipated or otherwise) be worth it? Will I be happy?
My other option would take a semester off to think about things, but that could be worse with me having to sit at home doing nothing. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. I haven’t spoken to anybody at this, most likely because I don’t want to disappoint or worry anyone close to me. Everybody right now just thinks I am 100% confident about going back.July 13, 2018 at 8:06 am #216519
Reads to me that the right thing for you to do is to complete those six tenths of your graduation program in the U.S., and to complete your immigration process to the U.S., proceeding with a CS career in the U.S.
Because you don’t feel comfortable expressing your anxiety and conflict to your parents/ family, see to it that once you are back in the U.S., that you seek the help of the counseling department in your university, any counseling and emotional support available there or through them (referral to community help, individual or group therapy, support groups for students).
You have always been a good student you wrote, excelling as a student. Clearly, you need more emotional support to maintain that excellent performing. We are more than intellectual beings; even the most intelligent, the most capable student in the world, needs emotional support.
I hope to read from you again.
anitaJuly 15, 2018 at 9:47 pm #216799
I really appreciate your reply and will take your advice into consideration. Thanks for having read through my post!
AndyJuly 16, 2018 at 4:19 am #216819
You are welcome, Andy. Anytime.