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Monday, February 16, 2009

Graduate School Drop Out

Most people know that I am a Christian, but what they don’t know is that once upon a time I used to worship an idol. It was the most important thing in my life--more important than my health, my family, and even God. I’m referring to my ambitious career goals. They sounded something like this:

I will get all A’s in school at any cost.
I will graduate top of my class.
I will enter the prestigious universities.
I will get a PhD and become a renowned professor.
My research will be published in the top-tiered journals.
I will have a large house and live comfortably.
I will walk on whomever I have to walk on and compromise almost anything in order to achieve my lofty goals.

Compare this self-centered ambition with that of another being mentioned in Isaiah 14:13,14.

For you have said in your heart:

‘ I will ascend into heaven,
I will exalt my throne above the stars of God;
I will also sit on the mount of the congregation
On the farthest sides of the north;
I will ascend above the heights of the clouds,
I will be like the Most High.’

That being was none other than Satan himself. Of course my ambitions were motivated by other factors. I grew up poor and I became determined to never experience poverty again. That however, does not excuse my self-centeredness.

Oh how the pendulum has swung! Fast-forward just a few years later and here I am a graduate student in my apartment typing a blog entitled graduate-school drop-out. Perhaps I’ve ventured into the dangerous territory of indifference, but somehow none of that stuff that I prized and worshipped so much really seems that important in the long run. Christian apologist Ravi Zacharias once said that “The loneliest moment in life is when you have just experienced what you thought would deliver the ultimate, and it has let you down.” And how correct he was.

It took me two years to get into graduate school. I had to delay applying to graduate school as a college senior because of some unexpected issues. I applied hoping to be accepted fall 2007, but because of low GRE scores I didn’t get in. No problem I’ll just work harder. After all, nothing’s more important than my personal advancement. So I applied again this time I did get an acceptance letter. When that letter came in the mail I was nothing short of elated! Now I will be a success. I won’t have to wash dishes, clean windows, and serve french fries anymore. Now I will have purpose!

So here I am a graduate student. I spent every cent I had to move to 475 miles away from home. I often worked for 10 to 12 hours straight at the restaurant last summer so that I’d have enough money to move. I said goodbye to everything familiar and important to me in order to sip from the fountain of intellectualism. And what a pathetic, sour fountain it is! What a lonely moment!

No. I don’t regret moving, but I do regret going to graduate school. Instead of the fountain of untapped knowledge I anticipated, I stood face to face with pluralism, secularism, postmodernism, atheism, relativism, and nihilism. Class discussions scoffed at the idea of creation. Students and professors frequently bashed God and His sacred teachings. Indeed I met people who were “forever learning but never coming to knowledge of the truth (2 Tim 3:7)”: People who spat on religion but referred to “my kind” as the close-minded ones.

The so-called scholars are indeed, as Ravi Zacharias put it, educating themselves into imbecility. The studies are ostentatious and esoteric, but lack even a shred of wisdom. Such jewels of knowledge such as parent’s behavior affects children, Gender and race discrimination still exists, and divorce is bad pepper their sacred literature. Millions of dollars every year are emptied into the intellectual abyss and for what? To prove--I’m sorry I’ve misspoken because research never proves anything it just suggests or provides evidence for--what common sense already tells us. What a Godless wasteland! I want nothing to do with it. How quickly do dreams crash and burn. Alas “Vanity of vanities… all is vanity and vexation of spirit” (Ecc. 1)

As I look back on all the opportunities I had to learn more about God, all the opportunities I had to witness, all the time I could have been spending “seeking first the kingdom of God” I am reminded of another quote from the band Lifehouse “I know where I’ve been and I don’t wanna go there again.” With these thoughts in mind I consider abandoning transient university dogmas in order to pursue the Way the Truth and the Life.


Anonymous said...

So have you dropped out yet?

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...


This is the first time I have ever been to your blog, and I came upon it by typing in "graduate school drop out" in Google. I, too, am a Christian, and I, too, waited over a year to enter grad school. And I, too, as of three days ago, am proudly a grad school drop out. I absolutely understand where you're coming from. I thought that grad school would give me a sense of purpose and worth, but as I sat in class, I couldn't stop thinking about how I was going to get through (and out of) the madness that I had just entered into.

School is not the answer, as you've already figured out. Thankfully, I went to a local school (I'm from the DC area), and I still live at home. It's funny, because even though I put so much time and effort into getting into school, I feel such an incredible sense of relief now that I have withdrawn. It's as though a weight has been lifted. I'm continually stunned that I elevated school so highly, when, as you said, I could have been focusing on things that truly matter in life. I think that I was more concerned about people's opinions of me, to be honest.

Anyways, thanks so much for your post. It's so nice to see that someone out there understands why I made the decision I did.


Anonymous said...

Hi Crystal--

I, too, came across your blog by typing in Google, "graduate school dropout" ...

I, too, waited a year before entering graduate school; Had a full-time job, which I hated and left to enter school, but upon entering, wasn't even sure if this was the right direction for me to go. But, I thought I would get somewhere better after having getting another degree--and I thought I would feel better about myself and people would envy me because I would have a graduate degree.

My Master's program is two years, and I am now in my last semester, with 27 days until I graduate. Back in September, I left school on the first day, started driving away from campus and towards my home where my family was (an hour and a half away) and called my mom, crying harder than I ever have before, saying "this isn't right for me"...I had no idea what to do after this--I felt that I wasn't qualified to do anything, find another job, and that no one would want to hire me. I didn't know what to do next, so I stayed in school. My entire life has consisted of me starting one thing and having to finish, no matter what. I don't know how disappointed my family would have been had I dropped out...and the ambiguous question of "what will you do NOW??" would always haunt me. So I stuck with it, and I've cried every day since.

I highly admire you're ability to drop out when you knew it wasn't the right thing; graduate school is very different from undergrad. I feel as if God was trying to tell me something--to look for what it is I want to do, and not try to do something I wasn't meant to do, and I ignored that, just to make my family happy.

Kudos to you for following your heart and instinct and doing what you know is right for YOU and not anyone else ;)

Anonymous said...


I too ran across your blog by typing in "grad school drop out" on Google. I am trying to finish up my first semester of a prestigious graduate school program where I have a full tuition assistantship, yet everything inside me says to leave. Sometimes I think God led me here, and other times I think I led MYSELF here. So, I have been quite conflicted as whether to stay or not. Sometimes I think God's plans are beyond what I can see at the moment - so perhaps I should stay? Other times, I think the talents and joys God has blessed me with are being slowly wasted away here. I admire your ability to leave; I just hope that if I also decide to leave that is the right decision.