Posted 09 January 2012 - 03:45 AM
Let me provide a different perspective. Graduate school should be fun and challenging. If you are having no fun and all challenge, then you probably took the wrong turn in the road. I too recall a PhD program that was no fun and all challenge-- I was one stressed guy for 4 hard years, however, I gutted it out and earned a very honorable PhD from a top notch engineering school. However, if you think that you made a bad decision, you are going to continue second guessing yourself until you make a change. There is no reason to continue to "gut it out" and struggle, hell, you'll end up with ulcers, heart trouble and become a walking Zombie before you are through the second semester.
At this stage of life, there is no silver bullet. If YOU are not happy and don't see a future, change course again. Sure, the program that you are currently in pays a stipend,but if you have determined that it is not for you, then bail out and find something else.
Today you cannot forecast or guess tomorrow. We don't know what we'll need in 5 years from now. What we do know is that an individual with great analytical skills, outstanding reasoning skills and the ability to communicate and work with others will be in great demand. We don't know what career areas will be hot in 5 years from now. What you do know is that you are miserable, you hate getting up everyday and are incurring a great deal of stress just thinking about it.
There is nothing wrong with saying "I goofed" and took the wrong turn in the road. Stop, regroup and start again. You have mentally decided that you need to make a change and you are asking for our approval/support. Although we cannot give you approval, only you can do that, we can give you support. That is what this post is about.
Don't be scared by the professors who tell you that you are a failure, you are dumb, were never cut out for this work, etc., etc., etc. Just walk in, tell your supervising professor that after a semester's worth of work, you have deciced that this discipline is not for you and you are leaving. Get your stuff and be done-- don't look back and beat yourself on the wrong decision you made. You were able to see some things, do some things and meet some folks that you never would have if you had not gone to John Hopkins. That is the benefit of the program.
I would take 6 months off and really think about what you want to do with the rest of your life. Get a job as a barista, a server, a bartender, golf course mx dude, something that gives you some thinking time, but also allows interaction with people. You may find that what you really need/want to do is to become a welder, an electrician or a lathe operator. There is nothing wrong with any of those positions either. Maybe you want to be a long haul truck driver-- I don't know, however, what I do know is that you are one miserable SOB now and things are NOT going to get any better on this path.