Dilemma- any insights?


Hello all. I seem to have a dilemma.

I graduated (BSc. in Ysubject) in 2007. Long before I had even finished, I knew exactly what I wanted to do, starting with one particular MSc in Xsubject (not quite in my undergrad subject, but closely related). Since then this has not changed for a second- I am more convinced than ever that this is what I want to do.

In the time since then I have been temping to earn money and to have some time away from academia in the 'real world' (partly to make sure that I really did want to do the MSc- I do!). Now, however, it is time to get my application in gear and... I'm scared witless. I am convinced that my results are not good enough (a 2.1- solid, nothing outstanding, and probably the minimum that most applicants will have), and that I have nothing to make me stand out on the application form. I do not want to ruin my chance at getting into my 'dream course' because of a substandard application. Right now, I can see two options:

A) Apply now. Take a chance that decent references (pretty confident here) and a solid degree result will get me in.
Pros: I get my dream career on track quickly. My application may be enough- Love the course, but I know it's not too competitive.
Cons: Rushing this could ruin my chances of achieving it at all.
Also, there is the problem of fees- my SO will be earning 'proper' money by then (he's doing his PGCE now- I know, not exactly huge money, but still). However, I'm not sure I can ask him to pay the bills alone (He'd be willing to do this, but I'd feel awful). My parents are not in a position to help, and there is only so much I will be able to save by then.

B) Apply for 2010 entry as soon as the 2010 application process begins.
Pros: I can take time to really improve my slightly weaker skills areas, gain impressive looking work experience in the field, and spend time reading as many recommended books and journals as I can. This should help me to stand out, really prepare me for the course, and be a lot of fun.
Also, I will be able to save a lot more money and be in a much better position financially.
Cons: Yet another delay in starting my 'real' career.
I also worry that I'm lying to myself and procrastinating my way into inaction- that all the 'pros' are just excuses to put off applying, and facing the possibility that I may be rejected. If I do get rejected, I will have wasted a year I could have spent doing something else and getting an alternative career on track.

I don't know what to do, and time's running out.

If you managed to read through all of that I'm incredibly grateful! I'm not even sure what I'm looking for, really- advice, personal anecdotes, reassurances, or even just a chance to write all of this out and get it clear in my own head. Thanks for anything anybody can add, whether it's a "Just apply, you fool", a "Leave it another year", or a "Don't do it! Run away!".

(Posted elsewhere too- sorry if you see this twice!)


Why don't you apply this year: If you get it, just deal with the financial issues when they come up, and if you don't you can think about that 'alternative career track'. If, after a year, you still want to do it you can apply again! I'm assuming there wouldn't be a problem applying two years in a row?

Good luck with it :-)


No harm in applying now - it'll be experience for the next application round if nothing else.


I would definitely apply this year. If you're lucky enough to know what you want to do with your life, why wait? In regard to your concerns, my personal experience (which is all I can draw on really!)

1) I applied for a Masters having got a 2:2 for my undergrad 8 years previously. A lot of universities will appreciate your life experience in between, plus you got a 2:1 anyway. I'm now doing a PhD at one of the best universities in the country so things can change and people will give you a second chance.

2) I worked 2 (+) days a week during my Masters and for the first year and a half of my PhD. It can be done and, if you can find a reasonably paid office job or something, can really help.

So my advice would be go for it! Good luck.