Hi everyone !
Yes , as the title suggests , I have decided to enrol onto a masters course . I’ve been working for the past 10 years and am thinking of studying full time . I have however heard that it is super intense . Do any of you have any tips , hints or advice ( things you wish you’d done or known ) that You could pass on ?
For example : to buy or not to buy books , how you stayed organised , what kept you going , what was the most difficult part , any websites that are particularly helpful for students , grants and funding , things like that really .
I’d really appreciate it !
I suppose it really defends on the field, and what you mean by 'super intense'. Having finished a one-year, full time Master's this September after 23 years out of education, my experience is that a taught master's is not really that hard compared to undergrad degrees. I completed mine whilst also working full time in my business (50-60 hours per week, and its a long story why I had to do both together).
As buying books, not really sure that is necessary, as the library had everything covered in my case, and the online access to articles makes finding relevant material far far easier than my undergrad days, especially useful for finding references for concepts/idea we already know but can't quite remember where we got them from. This is especially helpful when working on assignments. That said, I did pick up some second-hand books from Oxfam, but they were dirt cheap ('Just and Unjust Wars' by Walzer cost me a quid).
Funding wise, most unis give discounts to former students, and some offer scholarships. Best to check on their websites. There's also the Master's loan, £10K a year, and repayable as in the undergrad loan.
The thing I found most difficult to get used to was that the preferred academic writing style seems to have changed compared to my undergrad days. Whereas we were discouraged to write in the first person in my days, this now seems to be the default style. Also, concluding statements are now often also expected in the introduction, which I found strange, but after the first taster essay, I was able to adjust.
Hop this helps.
Thank you for your replies and for your tips! I really appreciate it !
Based on my very brief research on the internet I seem to remember reading about students who barely survived their masters . Some have attributed that to extensive reading lists ,numerous essays due and sheer exhaustion. Is it really that bad? How much reading do you do outside of the contact hours? Say if you had 10 hours contact time a week?
I have been teaching full time at a secondary school for over 10 years , and will have to most likely quit my job to pursue this, so I’m hoping that the intensity of the course won’t be too unfamiliar and that I can keep myself organised. I am very excited at the prospect of immersing myself selfishly in a subject that I find so fascinating (Climate Change and Sustainability)– a welcome break if I’m honest. I also hope that this course allows me to be part of something bigger than myself, and perhaps guide me to a different career path . I do hope I’m not being naïve though.
It is a taught masters, and having only just paid off my student loan I really do not want to succumb myself to that again. I have looked at the alternative guide to postgrad funding and not surprisingly, I’m either too old, or too far away to qualify for any of the grants available. So I will be diving into my life savings to fund this.
Can I ask, for those that have completed their masters degree- aside from a deeper understanding of an area you were passionate about , has your masters degree paid you dividends? Have you changed career paths, has it opened up more opportunities for you? Was it all in vain?
My course had only 6 contact hours per weeks, all small group seminars. Plus there may be half an hour to an hour of meeting with the module leaders, but that is infrequent, and mostly only used prior to assignments or if we have any problems. On top of that, they expect you to do about 40-50 hours of reading. I am not sure if anyone really did read that much, but one of the advantages of being a (very!) mature student was that I had came across most of the concepts in some way already, and really mostly did about 5-10 hours of reading per week to gain more depth.
I did the course out of personal interest rather than any thoughts of a career change, so can't say that it's opened that many new doors. It has, however, enable me to apply for funding for a PhD, something that was not on my mind when I enrolled. So in that sense, it has opened at least one door that was previously closed to me, though I did not know that I wanted that particular door opened. I think you should go for it. You never know where it may lead, and even if the destination doesn't lead to anything new or exciting in terms of careers, the journey is very much part of the fun. It is never in vain!
In my opinion, you need to treat the Masters as a full time job to get the most out of it. Whether that will mainly be reading or not will depend on your course.
It really depends on what you want to get out of the experience. You can get the classic mediocre pass or you can excel depending on how you approach it.
Exactly what do you want from it? Can you put a value on it?
Ah ok - there are 8 hours contact time for a full time masters compared to 6 hours for part time . I’ve opted for full time as the contact hours will be all over the place and very difficult to fit a teaching timetable around. I also thought that the experience may be a little less isolating in a full time course compared to part time - is that right ?
From the posts I’ve read on this forum It appears possible to temp here or there to earn a little bit of money without jeopardising my studies . That’s reassuring .
I think it's a better experience as full time student yes. And masters students in my department have the same opportunities to earn money teaching as PhDs do. People aren't supposed to work more than 6 hours a week on a full time course though. When I was in my writing up year, I tried to work as much as possible in the department, and the most I managed to get was 8-10 hours a week.
You will be okay, I use to travel 75 miles each way 3 times a week. My heaviest teaching day was Monday 3 blocks of 2 hours. The other 2 2 hours lectures, but I spent those day covering the assignments and further reading. Just remember to bring food and teabags, milk and buy only hot water (10-20p) otherwise I think my tea addiction would be £20 a week.
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