I failed two of my PhD qualifying exams (STEM) and will be mastering out from the program. I do not want to give excuse for myself but I feel like a lot of it comes from my bad relationship with my advisor who makes some things impossible for me to control (he was also on the committee for my exams) no matter how much I work.
As for my academic profile, I got all A's in my graduate coursework except for a B which comes from the only class that I took from my advisor. I also have two first-author papers at reputable journals and some other papers like conference paper. I am wondering whether should I still continue academia as although I am still interested in research, I am concerned that I have received a bad record from my current program which will affect my future prospects in academia. For instance,
- How should I explain my failure in my qualifying exams?
- Why did I not have a recommendation letter from my advisor?
- How should I explain my situation to previous recommendation letter writers to write for me again for the next application cycle?
- Should I apply for a lower-ranked school this time round since I am now seen as a more risky investment?
If I could explain my above situations wisely, I may try applying for PhD programs again. Although this experience is very disappointing for me, I will be much more prepared this time and will be more wise in terms of which lab I should join.