bfollinprm wrote:How we'd like it to work and how it does work are totally different things.
I do realise that. I'm not disagreeing that your list represents how things do work. I am not on an admission committee, but based on how interested they are in why you are leaving a school (from application questions to anecdotes of friends trying to do the same), it feels like your list is accurate.
I was just commenting on the fact that it's unfortunate that when a student wants to leave a program, it's often seen as the student's "fault" unless their reason is beyond their control (i.e. advisor moving/retiring), instead of other reasons like poor fit (where students are expected to just suck it up).
I guess only the first paragraph of my post was strictly on-topic (trying to show that grad schools recognize that living conditions are important since they stress that during the admissions process, so maybe it's okay to mention that as part of the reason to be leaving a program). The rest of it was just a comment and wondering why a student choosing to leave after a MS (not failing out) is sometimes considered a failed investment even though he/she would have been productive during their ~2 years there.
Sorry if that was off-topic, then! I felt like it is important for all of us grad students to keep in mind how much power our schools actually have over us, so I mentioned that thought.