Why You Should Write a Good-bye Letter to Academia

Are you thinking about leaving academia but finding it hard? Why not write a good-bye letter?

The transition from one sector to another is difficult. So is a change in job or a change in a career. But when you’ve had your heart set on a career – like many in academia – that transition is even harder.


Good day there, baker’s, writers, and rock stars. Today we’re talking about writing a goodbye letter to academia. What it looks like and why you should write one?

I’ve already talked about if you’ve had enough of academia what to do next about how you might transition from one part of the workforce for another. There’s an entire webinar on that. So, if you’re interested in the whole transition piece jump onto my website or YouTube and check out Transitioning out of Academia. But there’s other things that that you might need to address it. For transition that’s one difficult thing. Knowing what you want to do next is another difficult thing or even that you need to go in the first place that’s another difficult thing. If you’re for a lot of people joining the academy is what they want to do, and they want to stay in academia. Yet we know that 90% of all PhD graduates end up outside academia long term. So, that means that if 50 of all PhD students start their PhD wanting to stay in academia, then most of those people are going to be disappointed. You know roughly 90% of those people are going to be disappointed that they can’t stay in academia. So, what can you do about it, how can you address it, and what does it mean to write a good a goodbye letter?

One of the things that you can do. So, essentially a goodbye letter is a way of expressing your grief, expressing your loss, and it doesn’t necessarily need to go to anyone. It’s not intended that the letter is written to your supervisor or written to your line manager or anything like that. It’s all about getting down on paper in some form. What it is that you’re feeling? Potentially, why you’re feeling that way? If you know it, what you want to do about it all those things? So, there are several studies that show writing helps reduce stress. Not to mention the impact of positive writing or writing in a gratitude journal. That is quite positive on our mindset. So, what does an academic goodbye letter cover? Well, it can cover whatever you want. It could cover the change in what you’re feeling about how you view yourself. Whether you’re writing a goodbye letter saying things like, “I feel like a failure”. If that’s how you feel, it’s okay to write that down but you also might write in the letter what you’re going to do about it or how leaving will make you feel or how you want to feel on the other side of the change. You might write how you view others as part of this transition. What you think others are thinking about you. You might write down what you want to shout. You might write down what you want to whisper and wouldn’t say to anyone else. Like I said it doesn’t have to be for anyone. The aim is not to post it or send it to anyone. It’s all about expressing. Letting the feelings out. If you want to have a look at how this might work or in other contexts not academia, there’s evidence out there about writing goodbye letters to your partner, to your spouse or to your former spouse in the cases of separation and divorce.

So, if you’re struggling with the transition from academic to non-academic career, why not give writing a good buy letter a crack. Thanks. See you next time.