Continuing a conversation from years past, Vinylogous and Chemjobber have revisited the strain that graduate school can place on mental health. Quitting grad school is a really taboo subject–maybe even more so than mental health or the fact that academia is pretty rubbish at drug discovery. Why don’t we talk about it more? Grad school should not be the only priority in one’s life–and it’s perfectly OK for it not to be the highest priority (although certain PIs may disagree).

Vinylogy is the transmission of electronic effects through a conjugated organic bonding system.The concept was introduced in 1926 by Ludwig Claisen to explain the acidic properties of formylacetone and related ketoaldehydes. Its adjectival form, vinylogous, is used to describe functional groups in which the standard moieties of the group are separated only by a conjugated bonded system. For example, a carbon-carbon double between a carbonyl group and a hydroxylgroup is referred to as a vinylogous carboxylic acid, analogous electronically to a carboxylic acid, RCOOH.

Early on, it was easy to get discouraged. Now, it’s still easy to get discouraged. That’s research, I guess. Part of my struggles entailed coming to terms with the fact that I did not want the job I originally came to grad school for: academia. Moreover, I saw college and high school friends rocket past and start exceptionally successful careers in other disciplines, and I have seen other people I regarded as lazy or duplicitous get showered in accolades in their fields. That kind of thing–comparing yourself to people in different career paths–is rough. And when you’ve sunk 8 years into your university education, it makes changing career trajectories stressful and confusing. The factors behind each respondent’s departure vary in details, but often stem from either a mismatch in interest or skill-set, or a toxic work environment.