It's nearing the end of my third and final year at university. My last couple of months as a student. Or is it?
While many third years like myself are grappling with essays on top of working part time and applying for graduate schemes, the idea of staying on to study at postgraduate level, for some of us, hasn't even crossed our minds. But, with deadlines for graduate schemes looming and the on-going panic surrounding graduate employment, is applying for an MA a 'safety net' after your three years are up?
When I started my undergraduate degree in 2010, I did consider staying on to do a Masters in English Literature. I spoke to family members and friends about this decision and the responses I received went something like this:
"Why waste more money on another degree where most of your time consists of sitting in a circle reading Dickens all day" - (just to let you know, a 800-paged Dickens novel doesn't sound great to me either.)
The next person asked me - "Do you want to become a lecturer?"Nope, not really; because even though I do love Literature I don't have half as much passion as some of my professors. That's when I had an epiphany! Why would I want to land myself in even more debt, just so I can master in a subject of which I'm just merely "interested in". This is one of the reasons why I feel many undergraduates in my position choose to do a Masters; they are " used" to studying English, they have "always studied" History, Politics was "okay" at A-Level so might as well pick it up again.
We are faced with an academic, career and life conundrum. Before this undergraduate 'panic', this scenario used to happen: "I loved my undergraduate degree, I would love to study it at post-grad level, and maybe I will go in to academia, if not then job." However, the 'reality' is now: "I liked my degree at undergrad level; there are no jobs when I graduate, so I will apply for a Masters." It is this way of thinking which leaves many university students not only stranded but resentful when they do manage to get on to a postgraduate course. Nine out of ten students, I bet, wished they'd saved the money and went straight into employment or work experience. In my experience, there are internships and jobs available for graduates but we need to not be afraid of applying for them.
Just the other day, I had friends who were turned away from their PGCE courses for next year as there simply were not enough spaces. I remember when "being a teacher" actually appealed to me. It seemed like a default option considering that I study English (it was either that or a poet, apparently). This sudden blow to PGCE courses made me glad that I didn't apply. But this is not the only reason why I decided not to look into MAs. A year ago, a PGCE felt like the safest option for me.
Don't get me wrong, I love learning and always will enjoy learning new things, but after fifteen years in education I'm tired of repeating facts and quotes on to an exam paper. I know that finding a job after this year will be competitive, but I won't let this discourage me. I could, take the 'safe' option of staying in education for ever, but in this current climate, it's just as uncertain as leaving university as an undergraduate.
Not wanting to end this blog entry on a downer, I will say this: no one really knows what's going to happen after graduation. It probably won't be as bad as people make it out to be. Whether you decide to do a Masters, graduate scheme or move away from anything related to your Bachelors, do your research before you jump in to anything you wouldn't want to do. For my chosen career in Public Relations, or in any other field relating to the media, a masters is probably not the best route for me to take. So do your research and look for internships and hands-on experience in an agency as this is where you'll build your much needed contacts. The best thing about an internship is that it is only temporary- finishing a two week placement and deciding PR is not for you is far better than finding out after completing a one year masters in Communications.
Sophie Longley Do you agree with Sophie? Do people fall into Masters degrees because of the tough job market. Have your say below.....