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Suicidally depressed over a low GPA
Posted: 20 December 2013 10:29 PM   [ Ignore ]
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I am so depressed about my undergrad GPA that I feel like ending my life. I am graduating from college with my Bachelor’s degree in Anthropology next semester. My cumulative GPA is only 2.5 because I had below a 2.0 during my freshman and sophomore years. However, I had a 3.8 during my senior year. Unfortunately, there is nothing I can do now to change the past. I cry every second wishing that I could go back in time and study harder in college. I lost interest in everything, stay alone in my room all the time, and didn’t go out for like six months. I would be interested in working for a museum, a historical society, an archaeological research center, a primate conservation center, or a national park. I live in NYC. I am passionate about human and primate evolution, osteology, population genetics, forensic anthropology, Mesoamerican archaeology, Viking archaeology, and the archaeology of ancient China. I think that I ruined my future and I will never be able to get an entry-level job or get into a Masters program. Most employers ask for college transcripts and no one will hire someone who graduated with a 2.5. I don’t want to end up stuck in retail or flipping burgers. Do you think that my life is over because of bad grades in the past? I am so tired of being stressed out and worried about my future that sometimes I feel like jumping off a bridge.

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Posted: 21 December 2013 03:54 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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I probably shouldn’t reply to your post.  I know nothing about counseling.  But, many years ago a person close to me committed suicide and it seems less wrong to respond.  You’re posting on a humanist website so you won’t get an argument about sin or offending God, at least not from me.  I’ve lost a lover to suicide, and like most humans, I suppose, thought about suicide and looked into the abyss.  I watched my partner move through the slow death of Alzheimer’s disease, and I was in the room with my aged father when he requested that his pacemaker be turned off.  I don’t think suicide is a matter of right or wrong.  I’ll risk saying that I think suicide may be appropriate in certain conditions.  But, much more importantly, I think it’s a matter of lost possibilities.

What you don’t know, what none of us can know, is what could happen if you don’t jump off a bridge.  Suicide has certainty, it’s one of the few ways you get a moment of real control.  But it shuts all the other doors; eliminates all the other possibilities. 

You pulled a 3.8 average in your senior year.  Your smarter than I am.  I only have the experience of age, which has mostly led me to believe that I know less than I think I do.  But that means I realize I know less about potentially bad situations than I think I do, as well as about potentially good ones.  Maybe you shouldn’t trust your worst predictions more than you trust your best ones.  You could argue that the record of your GPA shows that you can evaluate your own performance and address your own failings and your smart enough to make changes happen.  That’s a big deal.  You clearly have the potential to create possibilities in your own life.

And don’t be too afraid of what we disparage as life on the bottom.  If you have to flip burgers for a while, just don’t let it become who you are.  I’ve spent most of my life around working people, (I’m a metal fabricator with a small shop.  I started out as a grunt.), and there are some amazing, fine, brave, sometimes smart, sometimes simple people who exist there.  One of the finest human beings I ever knew couldn’t read and stayed drunk every weekend.  It’s a pretty interesting world, and you might have to look, but there’s plenty of beauty too.  So, if you have do menial work, get to know some of those people, it can be an inspiring thing.  It isn’t ignoble or a failing to struggle.

If you don’t lose your courage or your curiosity, your life will be interesting, whether your an archeologist or a fast food worker.  And I believe, if you try to be kind, your life will have beauty in it, (however you want to define beauty), and will be rewarding.  With your proven abilities there’s no reason to think you won’t end up living an interesting, fulfilling life of joy and sadness, pleasure and pain, love and beauty.

Suicide doesn’t let any of that happen. 

I wish you courage and good luck

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Posted: 21 December 2013 05:53 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Believe me, you will not remember your undergraduate GPA for more than a blip in time. You can clearly write very well, which gives you a leg up on many people when it comes to getting a job.

I think you should consider getting counseling. Talk to your doctor about these thoughts of yours, and get a recommendation for a good psychologist. It’s not healthy not to go out for six months, and believe me, that may seem to you to have something to do with your grades but in fact it does not. Most people with grades much worse than yours are quite happy.

I live in NYC as well, there is so much to do here; one idea is that you could start by volunteering at the AMNH. As I understand it such volunteer positions can over time result in full-time positions, or at least provide good recommendations for your CV.

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Posted: 21 December 2013 08:05 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Oh Anna!  I know how you feel because I’ve struggled with depression myself all my life, often to the point of suicide.  You’ve just got to hang on!  I know you don’t feel like there are any possibilities now, but suicide shuts down ALL possibilities!  You need to try cognitive behavior therapy.  You say that you’re passionate about many things, so you know that there are things to live for.  Use that to make your world a brighter place!  And stay with us!  Please?

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Posted: 21 December 2013 08:30 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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annabk27 - 20 December 2013 10:29 PM

I am so depressed about my undergrad GPA that I feel like ending my life. I am graduating from college with my Bachelor’s degree in Anthropology next semester. My cumulative GPA is only 2.5 because I had below a 2.0 during my freshman and sophomore years. However, I had a 3.8 during my senior year. Unfortunately, there is nothing I can do now to change the past. I cry every second wishing that I could go back in time and study harder in college. I lost interest in everything, stay alone in my room all the time, and didn’t go out for like six months. I would be interested in working for a museum, a historical society, an archaeological research center, a primate conservation center, or a national park. I live in NYC. I am passionate about human and primate evolution, osteology, population genetics, forensic anthropology, Mesoamerican archaeology, Viking archaeology, and the archaeology of ancient China. I think that I ruined my future and I will never be able to get an entry-level job or get into a Masters program. Most employers ask for college transcripts and no one will hire someone who graduated with a 2.5. I don’t want to end up stuck in retail or flipping burgers. Do you think that my life is over because of bad grades in the past? I am so tired of being stressed out and worried about my future that sometimes I feel like jumping off a bridge.

No matter how bleak things look now, you will look back on them eventually and see them in better perspective. You will work your way out of this. If you can’t find a job in your field, take what you can get and volunteer at one of the places you mention.  Volunteering puts you on the scene, you learn something about how things work in that venue, and you may be considered when something opens up. Showing yourself to be truly interested in the field, eager to learn and willing to help might bring you some rewards and opportunities you aren’t expecting.  When a job interview comes up, be upfront about your grades and that you had a rough patch in college.  There are a lot of people who are working in good jobs in the field who had a similar experience, some who may be interviewing you. The almost exclusive attention to grades is something that lessens as time goes on, especially of you can show your strengths in other ways. You may have to get to your destination by taking back roads rather than the busy highway. There are other ways to succeed, you just have to find out what they are and work with creativity, diligence and patience.  Something will open up in your field or you will find a new path. You have fallen into the trap of thinking that grades are all that matters because that’s what colleges and universities do—they push grades as if they are the the end all and the be all because that’s their job. Grades aren’t so much a part of the real world. They are one component and they can be compensated for. The people who didn’t have the easiest time with their careers in any field,  the ones who were not academic whiz kids,  are often the ones who have the most rewarding careers.. They’ve been put to the test, are more grounded and wind up with a better understanding of human nature.  Don’t give up. Fight it out. There is more than one way to make your mark.

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Posted: 21 December 2013 09:11 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Anna, it sounds like your problem with depression goes much further than a low GPA, which BTW may be brought up by taking additional courses either required or elective. As an aside, I was exactly in the same boat as you when my GPA dipped to a 1.9 during my Sophmore year. I hated the Sociology class, ditched it and failed. I graduated with a 2.9 which blocked me from a Masters. Ten years later after taking and aceing classes to raise my pay (I’m a teacher) I applied and was accepted, easily passing the GRE. I now have a Masters+ and semiretired. Had I to do it all over again I’d work to become an Anthropologist/Archeologist. I love the field and everything you mentioned. You’re obviously seeking advice or you wouldn’t be here so here goes: first seek professional counseling from a trained psychologist. Find the origin of your depression. Secondly, never give up on your dream because you think you’ve failed or you’re not “smart enough”. Your post certainly doesn’t indicate that and I suspect that you’ve just hit a wall academically, it happens. Next find a support group, could be friends, could be family, could be a therapy group. No matter what path you take the thing to avoid at all cost is painting yourself into a corner where drastic measures are your only option. Taint so. If you’re really a skeptic then you might remind yourself that you only have one life and you owe it to yourself to hang on and change your future. Taking action is the first step.

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Posted: 21 December 2013 10:42 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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Anna, all the posters here have made excellent suggestions.  In addition, after going through forty years observing the progress of people, I’ve noticed very clearly that grades are only important in one’s first and maybe second job.  It’s how you do in that job that determines your work future.  I’ve known high GPA people who stayed at or close to the bottom because they couldn’t translate their test taking ability into useful skills, and people who did mediocre at best in school, but really applied themselves and enjoyed their work, so moved up rapidly. 

Go out and get a job, no matter how cruddy it may be, and work to become expert and enjoy it.  If your bosses are competent, you’ll be noticed and move up.  If not, you’ll have begun to build enough confidence that you can find a better job.

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Posted: 21 December 2013 03:33 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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I have another piece of advice for Annabk27. It might sound harsh and cruel, i offer it with the best of intentions. Gve up talking about the suicide!

You are having a problem because your grades weren’t high enough.  That is hardly a reason for a stable person to contemplate suicide. There are people who have lost loved ones, children, spouses, parents or suffered devastating injuries or have been diagnosed with a fatal disease or one that causes great disability who don’t contemplate suicide.  By comparison your problem is a minor one, one that can be overcome and one that has no lifelong impact.  If your grades have made you depressed enough to actually contemplate suicide, see a psychiatrist right away. If your suicidal thoughts are valid and not just a bid for attention or pity, it isn’t your grades that are causing such thoughts, it’s something much more serious and complicated.  But stop talking about it to people you don’t know or know well. There is a good reason for you to keep such thoughts to yourself (other than to a professional who can really help with a psychiatric problem).Talking about suicide makes you sound unstable and the last person anyone wants to hire is someone who may be unstable, That is a sign of someone who will fall apart the moment a crisis hits.  I would never hire someone who is likely to do that. When you talk of suicidal thoughts to acquaintances and even to close friends, you never know when that information might get to the ear of a potential employer. If it’s just talk, stop it immediately, if it isn’t get to a professional—but stop talking about it to random people.

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Posted: 22 December 2013 08:12 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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One other thing to consider, annabk27, a lot of graduate schools only look at your last 60 hours GPA. I tank a lot of employers would do the same. I know I would.

You haven’t ruined your life. Keep your chin up and look at the good things. You are graduating at a young age. I’m 58 years old and will be graduating next semester. Wants to compare freshman and sophomore GPAs? If you had messed up more than me you would have been kicked out of college. I can tell you from experience that things are not nearly as bad as they look from your perspective.

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Posted: 22 December 2013 08:21 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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Don’t forget that your school will have at least one counselor. Talk to them; it’s their job to be professional, listen, and help you find solutions for depression and whatever other problems might be contributing to your feelings.

Depression caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain is actually not too uncommon; I currently know a good trumpet player who battles it constantly. The way he describes his symptoms is that in his “bad periods” he basically shuts down, unable to concentrate on anything long enough to do anything productive, including getting help. He has a good support network, though, which I know helps greatly, so that he can get help when he needs it even if he’s incapable of seeking it out himself. And when he’s better, he’s well aware that he needs to keep his network working - working with his psychologist, adjusting medications when one seems to be losing effectiveness, making sure that he simply gets out and sees his friends on a regular basis.

Depressions caused by something other than a chemical imbalance are also not too uncommon, although once depression sets in, it can become hard to tell which caused which. Depression can be a very real response to severe stress (like having extreme pressure from someone to have great grades) and once it sets in, our brains can deliberately put us in a state of depression as a way of relieving stress that we can’t otherwise avoid. I remember many years ago, I was a young freshman cadet at West Point, and in the spring one of the seniors successfully committed suicide by jumping off of a building. In that case, the cause was not common but common enough that people recognized a pattern: some people, when they go there, are under extreme pressure to stay, get the degree, and serve the 6-year contract as an Army officer, and sometimes they get “trapped” by a combination of overzealous parents and the institutional inertia at West Point. Don’t get me wrong - it’s a great place to go - but it’s also stressful by design. West Point has had (for a long time) a policy that the first two years there are completely free and paid for with no obligation to stay for those accepted; I’m sure that part of the reason for that policy is to give people who figure out that they don’t like it there or who decide that they don’t want to be an Army officer, a graceful way to exit. That’s what I did: I left there after completing two years.

Depression (whatever the cause) can also make a person feel very isolated, that no one really cares for them. Which is a complete illusion. We always have people who care about us, and one of the absolute best ways of dealing with depression is to let those who do care about us know that depression is a problem.

Putting the notice on an internet forum is a good start. You have to do it in person, too.

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Posted: 22 December 2013 08:42 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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Please find a counselor at your school to talk to. I have a feeling the GPA is not the real issue, depression is. Please consider therapy.

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Posted: 23 December 2013 05:43 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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No, you can’t change the past so stop worrying about it and look forward to success in the future.  You are obviously bright and even a 4 GPA would not make you more intelligent.  You success in life will not depend on your GPA but rather how hard you work in your future.

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Posted: 23 December 2013 11:36 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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Counseling has got me back on track more than once. The advice here is great, but having someone listen to you and give you feedback is even better. If you’re too depressed to get out of bed, use the phone. It’s great to live in a world where you can have these feelings and find people who won’t judge you, but they will help you.

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Posted: 31 December 2013 10:44 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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It could have been worst! .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

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Posted: 31 December 2013 11:24 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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Interesting that since she posted that on the 20th she hasn’t been back even to read the responses. 

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Posted: 31 December 2013 11:32 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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Occam. - 31 December 2013 11:24 AM

Interesting that since she posted that on the 20th she hasn’t been back even to read the responses. 

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