Thinking about quitting occupational therapy school was a huge issue for me throughout my Master’s program.
I feel like I have to give it a little bit more attention than just one post about not failing fieldwork. This post is more general about how I felt during my first semester of grad school.
My hope is that by me documenting my experience, my story will be helpful for others who find themselves in a similar position. I felt like I had nothing relatable to read when I was in the throes of stress and anxiety (well before fieldwork).
I would Google something along the lines of “Quitting Occupational Therapy School,” “Failing out of grad school,” etc. as sort of a form of therapy in hopes that I could find someone relatable talking about the same thing.
I couldn’t find anyone online talking about OT school in particular. I knew from how anxious my classmates all were that I wasn’t the only one that felt so stressed – especially that first semester. I wished more people would have written about it.
For me to cope when I was on my own, I read through so many forums where PhD students vented about the fact that they were either thinking about leaving their doctoral program or actually did leave their program.
(Note: PhD programs, from what I gather, are a lot more intense than OT programs. Some people think it’s better to stick to the MOT vs. OTD as long as it’s possible from a career standpoint.)
But somehow reading the forums really helped me think through the possibility that if something did happen, I wasn’t the only one. Somehow it helped me pull through, get it together, and realize this was my dream and the only option I had.
Honestly another thing that kept me going was looking at the amount of tuition I already spent on grad school. That if I left the program, there would be no way to pay it all back with the $10/hour minimum wage I was making before. There was an escalation of commitment the longer I stayed in the program.
Weird motivation, I know.
If you’re reading this with the thoughts that you aren’t going to pass a class or want to drop out and pursue a different career, you definitely are not the only one, even right now.
You definitely are not the only one.
Your classmates may be feeling the same way, but of course no one really wants to talk about it as it can feel personal and almost embarrassing admitting your thoughts of failure.
I think the only person I told was my long-distance boyfriend on hours-long phone conversations. For some reason I never told my parents, maybe because I was too ashamed that they would think of me as a huge failure. I know now though that even if it did happen, I would not have been such a horrible “failure”.
It is totally okay to discuss this with your friends and family though. I really do hope that you have several people in your life to talk you through it and help you stick with it, since you’ve worked so hard for this.
Sometimes a little motivation from others really can go a long way when you’re close to a breakdown, or in the midst of a breakdown.
You may still be like me: searching for other options as you are in the midst of the hardest class you’ve ever taken, and you don’t think you’re going to last.
But I can assure you that if I can do it, I think you can too.
If this has been your dream career, and you made it through the grueling application and acceptance process, your school knows you have it in you and you CAN do it.
Positive affirmations every morning on the way to school can and really do help. Several friends and I would recite them mentally and it does help.
My favorites would be simple ones such as “I can do this,” “I will pass this test,” and “this is what I’m meant to do.”
It may seem a little “woo-woo,” but really, it saved me through my hardest times.
If this has not helped you, please don’t hesitate to either start an anonymous (or not!) forum post on here or shoot me an e-mail, as I want you to succeed and have as few breakdowns as possible in OT school.
It can also help if your advisor is understanding or you have a professor that you have a good relationship with to vent to or just talk with.
They’ve heard it before and will hear it many times again. Trust me.
Also know that this is only temporary. Grad school really does fly by and one day soon you’ll look back at the hard times and be glad you stuck it out.
This too shall pass (and so will you!).
I promise! 🙂