By Te-Erika Patterson
With half of all doctoral students leaving graduate school without finishing, something significant and overwhelming must be happening for at least some of them during the process of obtaining that degree. Mental illness is often offered as the standard rationale to explain why some graduate students burn out. Some research has suggested a link between intelligence and conditions such as bipolar disorder, leading some observers to believe many graduate students struggle with mental-health problems that predispose them to burning out.
But such research is debatable, and surely not every student who drops out has a history of mental illness. So, what compels students to abandon their path to a Ph.D.? Could there be other underlying factors, perhaps environmental, that can cause an otherwise-mentally-healthy graduate student to become anxious, depressed, suicidal, or, in rare cases, violent?
Research suggests that the majority of students who enter doctoral programs possess the academic ability to complete their studies, but systemic issues at schools may lead to high attrition and mental distress among graduate students. In exploring what exacerbates mental-health issues among graduate students, it may be wise to shift the focus away from labeling graduate students “deficient” to investigate how institutions themselves may be causing attrition.
Continue reading by clicking the name of the source below.