Many people decide to stay on for masters after they finish their undergraduate degrees because they think it will prolong the university experience and the timeframe until they have to start ‘adulting’ properly. However, for myself anyway, this has not been the case! My postgraduate life studying international law, ethics & politics has been very different from my undergraduate life in both positive and negative ways. So here are some things that I wish I had known while applying for masters a year ago:
- You actually have to do the readings: readings are actually essential, unlike undergrad. If you don’t do the required weekly readings then you probably wont understand whats going on in the lecture. You basically have to teach yourself the material and then go to discuss it in the lecture with other classmates and your lecturer. Because of this difference in learning, the things your classmates say are as important as what your lecturer says, so note taking will be continuous.
- The social life is not the same: a lot of masters students will commute from home so the social life is certainly not the same as undergrad when everyone was living within 5 minute proximity from each other. This makes it a lot harder to develop friendships. However, you’re also more likely to meet people from different countries and at different stages of life in postgraduate study than undergraduate study. This means that you are more likely to make friends with people from different walks of life unlike undergrad where you’re most likely to hang out with people your own age and from the UK.
- Jobs come more easily: I struggled to find a good part time job during my final year of uni, however, during my master a wide range of part time jobs which actually link to my career goals have become more readily available. Similarly, while applying for graduate jobs, I have been moved further in the application processes at a greater speed than I did while applying last year. I think that because masters is often perceived as the final step before entering the job market, universities tend to invest more in career talks, workshops, and company visits for post graduate students than they do for undergraduate students.
- Don’t be afraid to try something new: Masters is unlike undergrad because the people on the same modules as you may have come from a completely different career/academic background. There are people in my ethics classes that come from a medical background, and people in my politics classes who come from a linguistics background. I say all this to say that if you are thinking of ding a masters which doesn’t relate to your undergrad, don’t be afraid to try it. As a sociology undergrad student, I had written some politics essays but never anything law or ethics related, however the lecturers tend to know that some students will be new to their discipline