Loss of direction and ask for advise


I’m doing my masters and planned to upgrade to a PhD from the really beginning. I was confident when my initial proposal receive some positive feedback. However, things didn’t go well in my first year. I was experiencing depression, therefore took a 6 months break. After back, I have finished my first milestone presentation and the panels seemed impressed. I thought things were getting back on track. However, i made almost zero progress in the past few months...the second milestone is coming. And I don’t think I can make it...

Moreover, it’s time for me to make decision: 1) Applying for upgrading to a PhD. If I do, apparently it will be A LOT to catch up. I’m NOT confident with it and SUPER doubt with my ability.
2) Stay with my masters. Even if I do so, I think I still need to ask for a 2 month extension.
3) Switch to part time basis with my masters. My psychologist suggested me with this option because I was not doing well with my mental health.

I have basically no idea which I should go for. Lately, I can’t focus, avoid works, can only sleep until sunset, and feel that I may just try to postpone my failure by taking break and extensions. On the other hand, I’m clear that I’m interested in my research question and do think it’s valuable for some great efforts.

Would you have any thoughts on which path sounds like a better plan? Or if anyone here has ever taken breaks, extensions or reduced the workload, and could share his or her experiences? Thank you!


Hi, jw5,

Sorry to hear that you are having such a difficult time.

I do think that what your psychologist suggested is actually good. Part time would allow you to more time to recover and get well. You can always go back to full time later.

I would also like to suggest a 4th option. Have you ever thought that maybe a Master and a Phd are not right for you? Not everyone has to go down the academic path and to be fair, it's not all that wonderful either down the other end - the perpetual need to justify your research, being torn apart during presentations, applying for grants with low level of success, worrying about if you will still have a job the following year... I don't know if you want to cope with all that.

If you desire for a academic job to pursue your passion, then yes, a Master and a PhD will be absolutely essential. If you do not, then really, perhaps focus on recovering and then get a company role and work your way up. Experience is more important than qualification in companies. You can always get a Master or Phd later on in life if you change your mind.