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DH thinking about dropping out of school, not sure how to feel

125 Views 5 Replies 4 Participants Last post by  wendy1221
My dh and I met in college, we were both chem majors. I started dating him when Ds1 was a year old. We got married in July '02 (ds was 3.) We moved from Philadelphia to Lafayette IN for him to go to grad school a Purdue. BIG change from Philly. I worked at a local pharmaceutical company until a month before Jake was born. When he was 6 mos, I went back part-time for 2 mos, and then quit after another month and a half full-time (didn't want to go full-time, they wouldn't let me drop back to part-time.) I've been a SAHM since then. Jake is 2.5 now and Liam is 6 mos. Damien is in first grade at a charter school. I had plans to homeschool next year.

Anyway, dh is nearly done w/ his 4th year of grad school. He submitted a graduation plan to his advisor just last month, and she aproved it and even said it looked great. About 2 weeks after that, he got into a (verbal) fight w/ this jerk in his group. THis guy has constantly been on my dh's back since they've met, I mean constantly. Always putting down everything my dh does researchwise, saying he's incompetent. Says he's careless w/ their expensive equipment, etc, etc. I'm surprised dh put up w/ it this long, actually. Thing is, this guy is their advisor's little pet. She adores him and basically treats him like a spoiled child. It's bizarre. Before my dh and this guy, she had another set of students that she treated the same way, one was her spoiled pet, and the other was the one she seemed to vent her frustration on. I know this sounds truly bizarre. The weird thing is that she seems so nice and normal when you meet her.

Anyway, after this big fight w/ this guy (dh told him to f* off and leave him alone for a change--this is certainly not the first time a grad student has said something like this. It happens all the time, actually.), dh's advisor asked him to leave her group. She said he is unprofessional (this has been the only incident where he has acted unprofessionally) and that he is not meeting goals, etc, etc. Funny that she approved his graduation plan 2 weeks before this and never mentioned any of this then. (Btw, she was not present for the fight, and half of the other grad students in his group congratulated him for finally telling the jerk off.)

He has already talked to another professor about the situation and he thinks dh's advisor is behaving very inappropriately. If she were going to ask dh to leave, she should have done it years ago, not dropping him at the end of his 4th year. btw, if he joined another group, it would take him another 3-4 years to get his PhD. If he were to stay in his current group, he'd have 1-2 years to go. Purdue kicks you out after 7 years, so he may not even have enough time to get his PhD if he joined another group. I don't think dh would have a erally hard time joining another group. He was top in the class for several classes and he has a good relationship w/ several of those professors. His students ove him. He gets students from other TA's sections who come to his office hours for help b/c he's really good at helping them understand concepts. We've had a couple of his students babysit for us in the past.

So last night, he dropped a major bomb. He told me he's thinking of just taking his Master's (totally fine w/ me! I don't care if he makes a lot of $$) but here's where it gets tricky. He doesn't seem to want to work as a chemist anymore at all. OK, his boss gave him her final decision to ask him to leave on Mon night, so I think a lot of this is shock and gut reaction for him. But now he says he might want to go into scientific glassblowing. Cool profession, but it's a 2 year associates degree, and then years of apprenticeship for a job that there doesn't seem to be a high demand for and they don't make all that much money at first.

I just want him to be happy, I don't care what he does for a living, but I'm worried about our immediate future. If he does take his master's and start getting this gassblowing degree next fall, on the plus side, we'll live really close to his parents, who would be a great help to us. On the downside, how would we live for the next few years? I was planning on going to nursing school once he was done w/ school. I want to be a nurse practitioner. But I need to take 3-4 semesters of prerequisites before I can start nursing school, then I'd have a total of about 3.5 years before I ama NP. So that's 5 years from this fall if I start then. If we both go to school right away, we won't have any money to live on. I am already way in debt from my first degree. About $40,000 to be exact. Dh's grandparents left him enough money to pay for his undergrad education, and grad school was free (he is a TA.), so at least he doesn't owe any money. We also got a newish minivan last summer. Our car payment is $340/month. Thatsthe big one. I can defer my loans, but you can't defer a car payment.

I don't want to be away from my baby full-time until he's at least 2, if not 3! Part-time classes I can handle, esp if MIL babysits. But there is no way I can go back to work full-time while he starts another degree! And I really don't want to! I hated being a labrat at my last job and I just don't want to do it full-time again. Part-time I could handle, but it's hard to find a part-time labrat job plus it's doubtfull I'd make enough to pay for daycare and living expenses.

Am I wrong to want him to work for just a couple years to save up and make a living for us while I take classes part-time and take care of pour little ones? I know he really values me as a caretaker for our children. He is very supportive of my breastfeeding and staying home (we both come from very AP families, so this came naturally to us.) I don't think he's thought about the impact on our family of him going back to school w/ no income yet. Any suggestions on how to bring it up w/ him? Any thoughts on any of this. I am just reeling.

I was going to get up early to try and talk a little, but he came in already up and dressed w/ his coat on when my alarm went off to kiss me goodbye. He was going in really early to spend the morning w/ the University resident glassblower. I feel like all of our plans are just falling to pieces all of a sudden and he's not really talking to me much.
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IMO he needs to back off from making any major decisions until the emotional shock of the last week has worn off a bit.

He should meet with the dean or head of his department. It looks bad for the department to lose a student four years in, when he's close to completion of the program, ESPECIALLY if it's unprofessionalism on the part of his advisor at work. Is there any way to make the Ph.D. still pan out without years of extra work? He should explore this before making any major changes like becoming a glassblower!

Wowza. I'm sorry this has happened. I really think his confidence is shaken and he needs to SLOW DOWN. HTH.
Can he even get an associates since he has a masters? I was under the impression that you cannot complete a lesser degree than the highest one you hold. For example, when you complete a bachelors, you cannot get an associates, but you can complete all the bachelors you want. Then when you get a Masters, you cannot get another bachelors, but you can get as many masters as you want.

Admittedly, I heard this way back in the day, and I can't even remember where I heard it so I don't even know if it was a reliable source!
Wow. I agree with Penelope--especially if this is the first time he's talked about leaving chemistry, I'd just ask him to give himself a month or two to let himself adjust and figure out what happens next. Visiting with the university glassblower and just exploring his options sounds like a normal reaction to the kind of shock he just got, and I wouldn't worry too much about that. I've done it when I've been really miserable at work--looked at totally inappropriate jobs for my skills and what I like to do, and it helps me focus on what I really *do* want to do.

Good luck...even if it works out the way you originally planned, it's a sucky situation to be in
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Mahogny, that's not true. For example, my kids' pediatrician recently completed a master's in public health ('cause she's awesome and wants to better serve poor and at-risk kids). And she's been an MD for years, teaches at a top medical school. One of my college professors (a Ph.D in philosophy) took a sabbatical to get an MFA in poetry. My brother-in-law just finished law school, which he started right after doing his Ph.D in biology... (although technically law school is a juris doctorate, so those degrees would be lateral to each other....)

I think you can pretty much do any program you are admitted to and can pay tuition for.
OK, now he's talking about packing up and moving to Canada where we'd at least have free healthcare. lol. I think we'll be ok. Thanks for your thoughts! I think next week when all of these people who are out of town (department head, university ombudsman, the prof he's most friendly w/) are back for him to talk to, things will be better for him. He did make an appointment w/ the glassblower to try it out and see if he has any skill. Like I said, it would be cool w/ me if he decided to do it, I just think he should work for a few years as a chemist to save up for school (and maybe let me go back to school--I looked it up and it will only take me 3-4, not 5) while he's working before going back himself. That way, he'll have time to see if he likes working as a chemist or not for sure. He's been in school w/out a break since he was 3 now (he's 27, I'm 29.) He's never had a real job.
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