The Pandemic – Choosing a Master’s Degree Instead & Why You Should Too – With Natasha Rodgers

I had been struggling during my three years of English undergrad, due to both personal circumstances and the fact that uni really wasn’t all it was cracked up to be. English, as it had turned out, was an incredibly isolated course where the majority of work was independent, totalling about 9 hours of actual class and contact time per week. 

Extremely harsh criticism and feedback on my previous assignments had led to me developing a crippling fear of submitting anything that was even slightly less than perfect, and as a result, I only managed to submit two out of my six essays which counted towards my final year.

Having always done well in exams in secondary school, I didn’t know how to deal with this failure…or rather, avoidance of failure. I was incredibly anxious but knew that I couldn’t drop out of uni after all the hard work I had put in. I decided to send a lot of emails and contact student loans, concluding in my repetition of third year. Despite my concerns, I met a lot of really nice people in this new class. It turned out to be a much more positive experience than my previous three years.

I was so excited to start making careers appointments and start applying for my PGCE…but alas, the 2020 pandemic had other plans for us. Much to my surprise I graduated with a 2:1 in English BA Hons in July 2020. I was at a loss though. I felt cheated out of a proper graduation with my friends. I had already missed out on graduating with my friends the previous year. Everything had come to a halt, we were in lockdown, people were on furlough, no one was employing and graduate schemes ceased for the most part.

Well… “This is anticlimactic,” I thought. “What am I supposed to do now?” My job at the time wasn’t paying furlough and I didn’t see there being much point in applying for teacher training. One of my lecturers emailed me to suggest that I apply for a Masters degree, as she thought I’d be a good candidate for it. I hadn’t really thought about it. I hadn’t enjoyed my first three years of uni and couldn’t wait to graduate, so why would I go back? Although, I do enjoy learning and this would be an amazing opportunity to prove to myself that I can handle the challenges and deadlines that are thrown at me. I wasn’t going to be doing anything whilst this pandemic was ongoing anyway.

So, I applied for an English Literary Studies MA… Although we only had one month of face to face teaching, it has been such a positive experience. I am now due to submit my final 15,000 word dissertation in October, and no matter what my result turns out to be, I am so glad I made the decision to study at a postgraduate level. Working from home and setting myself deadlines has really increased my self-confidence and I feel really proud of myself for having come this far during a pandemic.

I was initially upset by having to put my career pursuits on hold, but if it wasn’t for the pandemic, I would never have applied for a Masters and realised that I can be so proactive and productive whilst working independently. 

I’m really excited for all that is to come, and am now even looking into other graduate schemes that I hadn’t considered before. I feel that this Masters and year has really broadened my horizons. If you feel stuck in terms of careers or feel that you have post-graduation blues, I highly recommend that you consider postgraduate studies!

It’s more challenging than a Bachelors but you are (hopefully) studying things that you are more interested in and passionate about. It totally changes your way of thinking. You just never know what path it could lead you down as a graduate!

Above all else, realise that not everything is going to go according to plan. My whole graduate experience is completely different to what I previously thought it was going to be. Constant rejection from graduate schemes and internships can be incredibly frustrating, (trust me, I know) so further study may just be the break that you need. Also, don’t let your mindset become too deeply entrenched in perfectionism. Sometimes it can hold you back.

You can follow Natasha on IG – @nashyslashy

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