What came before
We all remember counting down the months, weeks, days and hours to completing A-Levels and leaving home for the first time. The mixture of excitement and pure fear! We all have many stories from an undergraduate perspective, some people would rather forget! Ah, but a Masters, a Masters is so much more. You have reached a sense of maturity where life as a postgraduate student will help you to navigate your way into a career by narrowing down your chosen field.
More life experience
I took 7 years between my undergraduate and postgraduate degree. It is far less nerve-wracking and all very exciting to be back in education and eager to learn. I truly believe that the older you get the more you appreciate knowledge and challenges. I was very excited to have my place confirmed and not at all worried about starting an academic year.
Although I had a large gap, I had so much to give because of immense life experience. For example, after I graduated in 2012 I moved to Long Island, New York to work. I have managed hotels and then I decided to join the police. The police career path gave me the energy to pursue Law at a Masters level and York’s excellent program came highly recommended.
How to prepare
What to expect and how to prepare? Online reading will be released over summer and I urge you to ger a head start. Mine wasn’t too long but I also chose to read around the subject. I also thought I would need a dissertation topic fairly quickly (you do not) but I had given mine a lot of thought before classes commencing. You can never be too prepared. To summarise here are my 5 recommendations:
- Reading lists- get a head start
- Enrol as soon as you can and set up your email
- Join Facebook groups for your cohort
- During your reading and general research, consider topics you would like to explore
- Read beyond the summer reading, even if it is just a little
How mature students fit into university life
Whether mature students fit into university life was something that did cross my mind. Then I thought – I have so much more life experience and achievements, I can conquer being the ‘older’ one. However, I soon realised I was not the ‘older’ one and there were many more like me.
There is also a group at York for mature students, through the Graduate Students’ Association (GSA) , which gives York that unique perspective on student life as an adult. It makes you really appreciate the GSA, who represent postgraduate students differently to undergraduates. I also put myself forward to be the course rep for my cohort. I firmly believe having that maturity helped me navigate my way through problems that arose and the general meetings we had every semester. Whether you’re living on or off-campus, get involved. Also, utilise the library. You will spend a lot of time studying in there so make yourself at home!
Are there any other activities I could do?
Yes! Yes! Yes! Join a society, there are so many to choose from. Some humorous and some more serious such as Amnesty International. There are so many to pick from you could utilise this to network and build up your resume for future jobs. In addition to this, look at Languages for All, for a reduced fee you can learn another language at varying levels alongside your master’s. I took Spanish and many from my cohort followed suit and joined the languages for all on the side. This also enables you to meet more people and mature students.
For some courses such as Law and Politics, there are many additional guest speakers usually weekly that I would recommend you take advantage of. Not only will they apply to your course, but again, it is all about networking and making the most of the opportunities in front of you. A Masters course is typically only a year when studying full-time. That year will fly by so make the most of what York has to offer. Push yourself to go above and beyond the generic structured masters and explore other options.
For some, a Masters is a step towards a PhD. For those considering this route, the above is important to engage with as much material and additional skills/seminars you can to narrow down your chosen field.
Come join us in York, you will love it.
Read more blogs about the postraduate experience