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Student Spotlight: Amy Krings

Amy Krings received her Master’s in Social Work from Michigan and settled into her field. She bought a house, she got a dog, and she saved for her retirement fund. Her life was stable and on an upward trajectory, but there was still something missing.

“If it hadn’t been for the five years of financial support that Rackham provided I wouldn’t have been able to walk away and pursue this path. For me, it was the difference between having an opportunity to go to graduate school or not, and the ability to focus on my research without fear of debt or needing to take an additional job. Funding has been an enormous help in advancing my research and giving it a greater degree of breadth and depth it wouldn’t have had otherwise.”

Setting Your Own Goals for Graduate School

Here is a problem: attrition rates in graduate school are high and are increasing per year. The percentage of students who don’t complete graduate school can be anywhere from 20% to 60% of the cohort size (depending on which study you read). That’s 20% to 60% of college graduates not reaching their original career aspirations.

So the question is, why do these students, who have excelled in their studies throughout their lives, suddenly decide to quit? Could it be that they were wrong? Maybe not wrong, but that they needed to take a step back for some perspective? Will some of them return to graduate school? Will they spurn higher education? What’s next for this well-educated and overqualified population?

A Social Life in Graduate School Is Just as Important as an Academic Life

Believe it or not, having a social life is an integral part of graduate school. When I first started graduate school, most of my friends were people that were in my cohort. However, as people have started finishing, moved to other places while still in the program, or have had a variety of other life transitions, meeting people outside of my program has become more important, because the majority of friends from my program are no longer in Ann Arbor.

This isn’t easy, though. Having a social life isn’t something that is stressed in graduate school, but it should be. It can be cloying, at times, to only know, talk to, and hang out with people that are in your same graduate program. Sometimes you need an escape, and that escape comes in the form of other people.