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I am in an MS program at a big university in the US, where I pay my own tuition.

I am not happy with the quality of education I am getting at this university.

I am thinking that after this quarter is complete, that I want to officially withdraw from the program and go somewhere else. I think I can get much better education and for much less cost as well.

My question is: Will this affect me in any way for future admission to other schools? I am an A student, and I'll be withdrawing after the quarter is over, not in the middle.

Will the transcript contain some negative marker in it because I did not complete the MS program? Has anyone been through this and found any negative effect when not completing a program?

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If it is possible, you may want to consider applying to a new program while you are still in your current program. In some sense it will be like a transfer, which may come across as a better move than to withdraw and re-apply to other schools later.

Bear in mind that you will need recommendation letters again, and you should be cultivating relationships with professors now with the hope of getting good recommendations. While you can ask the people who wrote your last recommendation letters again, you would need to explain why you didn't get recommendations (at least one) from a professor from your current school.

If you are in the midst of fruitful research, I would also advise you to try to finish up and put together a paper for publication -- if published, this will also help in future applications, and you don't want to waste the effort if you can help it.

One further caveat: graduate schools sometimes have a cap on how many courses you can transfer from a previous school, and you may find that you have to re-take a number of courses you've already passed (and paid for). The financial benefit from withdrawing now may not be as good as you hope.

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Your transcript will very likely have a notation that shows you withdrew from the program; to claim that you are still enrolled when you are not would be dishonest (if either you or the university said so!).

And yes, this will be something that you will need to explain to schools to which you apply in the future. Just saying "it's not good enough for me" is a bad reason to withdraw from the program, because it suggests a "diva-like" attitude that is not particularly desirable (in just about any circumstances). If you're responsible for paying your tuition, and found you could no longer afford it, that would be a more tolerable reason.

But you will need to explain this, and it can definitely have an impact on the decision of future admissions committees.

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