I am an upcoming fourth year doctoral candidate (ABD) in an experimental psychology Ph.D program with a Master's (before matriculation to my Ph.D program) who is expected to wrap up sometime next academic year. My program experience has been rough to say the least. Although I am ABD, my battle was a major uphill one to get to this point.

First, I did my open house and interview for my program back in February 2020, which was one month before COVID happened and stay at home orders continued into 2020-2021. Although I was given an offer before everything happened and I secured funding for my first year, I had an advisor for my first two years who was extremely capricious and had a history of not treating her past advisees well. I did not know about this since she only ever had two other advisees due to being a newer faculty at the time. One of her advisees trained me before he graduated with his Ph.D. My ex-advisor ultimately dumped me after a series of miscommunications we had related to lab procedures. My current advisor, who is also the department chair, apologized alongside the current interim program director (my ex-advisor was the full program director at the time) after I told them about what happened to me. I mention all of this since my ex-advisor knew about my neurodivergent conditions (e.g., autism, ADHD-I, emotion dysregulation, etc.) and intentionally said or did things that were extremely unaccommodating.

I have clinical trauma from the experience and it is classified as unspecified clinical trauma (I have symptoms albeit with no pre-existing classification for it). My pre-existing symptoms, particularly emotion dysregulation, are exacerbated to the point I have recently need to adjust my medication. I have also taken a "medical leave" of sorts this summer by not working full-time. I had a summer course assigned to me, but it was cut due to low enrollment and is a blessing in disguise. My current medical doctors who treat me wanted me to not work full time between my work and studies since I was recently at risk for major self-harm in addition to severe inattention from my newfound trauma to the point where driving is occasionally unsafe.

This past academic year, I made sure to enroll in the final remaining credit hours I had with what may have been my final assistantship even though I was told funding was four years at the start of the program (verbally, not in writing). My full tuition waiver was intact, but my stipend got cut in half, which was devastating until I got an adjunct position at a community college near me. This means I cannot do student employment on campus or accept an assistantship for my department (assuming they do not get cut like most feared right now) since I need to be enrolled in 6 credit hours. I am hoping that I can be an adjunct instructor for the university at my current program in addition to two other universities where I am also an adjunct. However, I've learned the hard way how unstable being an adjunct truly is right now with enrollment issues at my current university and community college near me. Fortunately, the one that currently employed me doesn't seem to have those issues and I can live frugally off of the funding they gave me.

I was also able to propose my dissertation this past academic year since my current advisor accepted an idea I pitched to my ex-advisor before she ultimately rejected it after I did a full literature review no less. My current advisor has told me that he is happy with my program progress on multiple occasions. However, I've had difficulty with juggling other research projects since I taught 3 classes this past semester while I was in an unproductive state due to my untreated medical issues I was not aware of how to resolve until recently. Even then, I still have to experiment with new medical routines till Fall 2023 begins for me with the hope that I will be in a manageable state by then.

I am also moving apartments for the cheaper rent that will save me a huge amount of money going forward to the point my savings can cover it worst case. However, I have a ton of questions in the back of my head right now.

If funding for students gets cut to the point they cannot take any more, how will those plans work (June 28th is when decisions for funding will be public)? If I lost my current advisor due to my situation, how can I go about finding another advisor if I am not paired with someone else by then? Any other recommendations for managing my responsibilities despite my current situation?

  • 3
    Sorry, but this is far too specific to your own personal situation for us to answer. Stack Exchange is intended to be a Q&A site where the answers will help others. For that, the questions need to be general. Commented May 26, 2023 at 7:46
  • Is this about a doctoral students running into financial meltdown/crusing and losing advisor? Commented May 26, 2023 at 8:02


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