Back in the Fall of 2013, I attended a masters program straight out of college. Turned out to be extremely overwhelming relocating to NYC, living on my own and starting grad school. I knew I was in the right field but my anxiety got the best of me and I struggled speaking up in class which of course negatively impacted my grades. By the second semester I already knew I needed to leave and recuperate before I could return just to work on my anxiety problem. The problem was that it was too late for me to withdraw and I ended up trying my best to complete the semester even though a huge part of me did not want to be there anymore, especially since my teachers felt I was not ready for the program given my lack of contribution in the class discussions. By the end of the semester I decided that I did not want to return to the school (was not thrilled with the program there or the faculty) but later on found out I had been academically dismissed since my GPA fell below 3.0 to 2.96. Since last Fall (2014), I have been just focusing on work and working on my anxiety with a therapist but have been thinking about applying to the same field (mental health counseling) at another school for the fall of 2016. Would I have a fair shot at being admitted into another school in the same field given that I was dismissed from my previous program? Just wondering if anyone else has been in a similar situation. Thank you in advance for your feedback.

  • 1
    Maybe this is a duplicate of something, but not the question it's linked to. Specifically, that question and its answers do not address reapplication after dismissal at all. This question concerns an entirely different situation than in an initial application. I don't know how to flag it as poorly marked as duplicate, but the duplicate flag really doesn't apply here.
    – marcman
    Commented Jun 24, 2015 at 2:52

2 Answers 2


For the poster, I recommend you take this very carefully, and perhaps read it a few times. I hate telling people that their dream may not be achievable, because I was in those shoes at one point, too. However, I can't advocate blindly trudging forward and not giving up because that wastes both your money and your time if you don't objectively evaluate whether or not your goal is still achievable.

A while ago, I was in a Master's Program in Biological Sciences, with the ultimate goal of eventually going to medical school. I struggled as much as I could, but in the end, failed to meet academic standards and was told that I was no longer in the program. BAM! Just like that, my dream of going to medical school was over. What seemed achievable, in a year, became a flight of fancy, and a disappointment that I took deeply for a while.

Needless to say, when you fail out of one program, the chances of you continuing in the same field drop dramatically, even if you can explain it as a medical issue, because the onus of proof points to the fact that you were unable to complete your original program.

I gave up my dream of applying to medical school and started working on a Master's in Computer Science. I had some experience, and I knew I could do it. It wasn't brain surgery, but it was something I was good at. I've been done with the Master's for a few years, and have been VERY happy with what I am currently doing. If you had told me right after I failed my first Master's that I would find something better to enjoy doing, I would probably have just flopped over like a fish and not cared.

I now call this event my "early-life crisis." A lot earlier than the mid-life crises that people feel regarding their work, because we reach the point where our dream not being attainable actually becomes a plausible or even likely scenario.

I hate to say it, some of us aren't really prepared or capable of achieving our "dream" jobs. I say "dream" because dreams can change, and they certainly should, given how your life plays out. Lots of people want to become the next Lebron James, but very few can. You can take 24/7 basketball courses and weight training, but sometimes, we just don't have the traits we need to reach that level. We make do, and we should course-correct if we know that making do is not sufficient for us.

You state that you were uncomfortable participating in group discussions regarding the subject of your Master's, mental health counseling. I'm somewhat familiar with this by prior trade, but communication is a big part of that field, and unless you get around the issues preventing you from participating, the same failure is likely to happen. Given what you've said, I would like to put to question whether or not you feel that you are a good fit for the program you're enrolled in.

Instead of jumping immediately in and trying again, you definitely evaluate your short-term and long-term career goals with your therapist. You should seriously consider additional programs and subject fields as well.

  • +1. Thanks for sharing your personal story and I am glad it worked out well for you.
    – Alexandros
    Commented Jun 24, 2015 at 3:05

While Compass's answer does make some valid points, I wanted to add my two cents on the assumption that the original poster is sure that renewing grad school efforts is the right next step.

If you "failed out" of a program already, you are going to have a hard time getting accepted back (or elsewhere) without really demonstrating a change in your work habits, maturity, academic ability, and other areas. A doctor's note saying "so and so has been treated for anxiety and is now fit for readmission" probably won't mean a thing to admissions committees, regardless of its veracity. However, demonstrating that you've done good work in a job related to your field is something that could be of note to an admission committee.

I'm sure the mental health field has plenty of opportunities that only require bachelor degrees. Working in this capacity for a while can both demonstrate an improvement on your part and also connect you to great resources who could ultimately recommend you for readmission. My understanding is that recommendations from people in your desired field can lead people to overlook past mistakes.

It is likely to be much more difficult the second time around, but demonstrating your growth with concrete achievements--rather than by saying "I'm ready now"--will be your best shot at restoring the admission folks' faith in your preparedness for grad school.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .