I think I’m going to start a few recurring posts as I see fit… one, I think, is going to be “Seascape Saturday” and the other is just simply going to be things that grate my ass… whenever things like that come up (which, is often). You can guess which one today’s post is… and it’s not Saturday. So when you see this cheese grater… you’ll know what kind of post it is.
So, recently, one of my work friends got kicked out of her doctorate program for not passing her comps (comprehensive exams). She says she wasn’t the only one that this happened to. In case you aren’t familiar with the process, in PhD programs when you’re done with your course work you take a comprehensive exam, mine was in the form of a 30 ish page paper. The purpose of the comp is that it, in theory, demonstrates your abilities and what you’ve learned from your classes. If you pass, you move from being a PhD student to a PhD candidate, with only dissertation left to complete. It’s normal to need revisions on your comps. It’s also possible to get kicked out if you fail, but the culture at my university is such that you know it’s possible to get kicked out, but unlikely (sort of like a legend that parents tell kids so that they wouldn’t blow off their homework). Anyway. I got super defensive for my friend and felt like writing about it here. So she said she turned in her comps, did revisions, they weren’t good enough, and the program dismissed her. You can appeal it, but I’m not sure she is going to.
I recognize I only know her side of the story. She might have had a documented remediation plan and then got kicked out for not following it. I just feel for her. And I hate the idea of people getting “cancelled” and that just because they didn’t make the mark in some standard timeline that means they don’t get to try anymore. I HATE THAT. It is so, so soul crushing. Like spending years of your life working toward something … time and money spent, and then being told no. If you apply other places, that incident will come up. And plus, if she had gotten good grades in her coursework, they already know her writing, how could this happen? Sigh.
Again, I realize I don’t have the whole story, but sometimes I can’t help but think about how toxic higher ed can be at times. I understand there has to be gate keeping. People get through that shouldn’t, I’ve seen that first hand, but I also don’t like the idea that someone can’t take time off for their mental health or to take a writing course and come back.