Thinking about doing a Masters? Good for you! This is a great way to specialise in a certain area and provides skills that you might not have gained at an undergrad level. Being shooed in the door of a college course after the leaving cert can leave people stuck in areas that their interests have long since wondered from, and a Masters is a great way to put you back on track for a career you love. Not that this is the only way to achieve that, but here are five straight up facts you ought to know before committing. If none of these fazes you, you will probably boss it!
1. This is NOT like an extra year in college
There is nothing to kick-start the mid-twenties crisis like not knowing what to do after college. I think it’s safe to say we have all been there or will be there soon enough. Some people opt for doing a Master’s degree as a way to put off adulting for another year. While your reasoning isn’t totally off point, a big mistake some people make is going into a Masters with the idea that it’ll be just like an extra year of an undergrad.
You are in for a major shock in that case. Struggled with final year assignments? Well a Masters is just like your final year. On steroids. Regardless of whether you do a Taught Masters or a Research Masters, a hundred times more is expected of you. Longer words counts, colliding deadlines and endless hours of reading. By no means am I intending to put you off applying for a course, but if you are the kind of lazy student who is just looking to put off the real world for another year, there are other ways procrastinating then wasting a hefty few bob on skipping classes.
2. Choose wisely
If you’re going to do it, do it right. Research the courses you are interested and don’t apply for the sake of it. Look into the modules that are offered and ask yourself – am I really going to drag myself out of bed in the morning for this? Having genuine interest in what you are doing will not only make getting up in the morning easier, but it’ll make assignments and projects waaaaaaay less daunting.
You don’t have to fancy every aspect of the course, but if you can look at 85% of it and still think “that sounds interesting” then you might be on to a winner, especially when it comes to writing a 20,000 word research project. The purpose of a masters is to narrow your area of specialisation – why would you want to be a master of a craft you’re not really into?
3. Work, work, work, work, work – (Rihanna, 2017)
Balancing a part-time job with a Masters. Not impossible but it can be difficult! If you’re not prioritising your education over your part-time job however, you may need to rethink why you are doing this course in the first place. Being a poor college student is tough and as enticing as a decent weekly pay cheque is, you need to remember the bigger picture. You are not studying so you can wipe tables or stack shelves for the rest of your life.
If you’re lucky you might have a manager who understands this and is willing to strike a balance between enough hours and enough time off to study. If not, you might want to consider taking a year out, working really hard and saving enough money so that you can put all your time into studying next year.
4. Criticism is worth more than compliments
As I said, a lot more is expected of you at this level of study. Nobody is going to hold your hand and give you a gold star for doing “good enough”. It is absolutely soul destroying to pour blood sweat and tears into a piece of work and not get back the grade you want. But, instead of having a hissy fit and mouthing off about your lecturer, strap on your big boy pants and ask them “what am I doing wrong?”
I know, I know, this just SCREAMS brown noser, but it is true what they say about earning from your mistakes. Trust me, it is a million times more frustrating to be handed back a C grade and being told how great it is. “B*tch if this is so great where is my A grade!” The real world is going to be hard on you, and the lecturers who prepare you as such are actually the ones who will stand to you.
5. “Nobody understands me!”
Nope. Nobody is going to understand just how much of a weight this year is. Your social life is about to get a kick in the teeth and try as you might, you just can’t do everything. Obviously, your classmates will be empathetic and will (probably) be on the same page about giving nights out a miss with deadlines looming. Until you have had to sit down and write a thesis, you cannot contemplate the stress.
Some friends will take it as a personal insult that you have to blow them off to study. Some friends will be 100% supportive and let you “do you”; waiting can in hand by the end of it. Obviously, in an ideal world, everyone in your life would resemble the latter of the two, but you can’t win them all. Moral of the story – just be selfish for the year. Socialise where possible and don’t entertain petty B.S. :)
Hopefully, by the end of this article you’re not completely put off the idea of applying for courses. When all is said and done, there is no feeling like finishing a Masters and being able to show it off to employers. And if that’s not enough, you’re guaranteed a good Instagram for some like-bait ;)