It’s tough, it’s exhausting and it’ll leave you broke. But I’m glad I opted to do it, says postgrad student Helen Crane
A-Z of postgraduate courses for 2012
It happens at about this time every year. With dissertation deadlines looming, energy-drink dependence reaching critical levels and the library fast becoming a second home, the undergraduate’s mind turns to an even more terrifying issue: “What am I going to do when it’s all over?”
“I like being at uni,” you think. “And those ‘jobs’ people are talking about sound like a lot of hard work. To say nothing of hard to come by. I know, I’ll just stay here!”
I chose a postgraduate course, and most of the time I’m glad I did. But be warned: the quest for a few extra letters after your name is not an easy one. For those who are unsure, here are some reasons not to stay in school:
• Postgraduate theses, however fascinating the topic, are long. Can you, hand on heart, say that you want to write the equivalent of another dissertation within a year? If the thought sends a shiver down your spine, you aren’t ready for postgraduate study.
• The partying:studying ratio is skewed sharply towards the latter. This may actually suit you. Believe it or not, by the time you’re a postgraduate, student parties have lost their lustre. Having been a pirate, a soldier, a caveman and an ancient Greek, you’ve exhausted all the obvious fancy dress possibilities, and queuing outside a dingy watering hole alongside a gaggle of 18-year-olds bedecked with neon body paint is just depressing.
• If life were a dinner party, the postgraduate student would be the surly teenager clamouring for a place at the adult table. Prepare for your newly employed friends to be talking payslips, promotions and paying off the student loan whilst you’re still walking the two miles to the nearest discount supermarket to buy tins of alphabetti spaghetti for 7p.
• You may be laughing off your undergraduate debt, but choosing to burn an even deeper hole in your pocket is a serious decision. Say goodbye to your nice, fluffy student loan and bottomless interest-free overdraft: be prepared to saddle yourself with a big, scary bank loan. Borrowing money to fund an internship could be a cheaper option, and buy you valuable experience.
• A postgraduate course is not a golden ticket that will allow you to walk unannounced into any workplace and have people falling over themselves to give you the job of your dreams. Choosing the right course and working hard helps, but you could still end up with nothing more than a fresh helping of debt and something else for your Mum to boast to the neighbours about.
If none of this puts you off, by all means apply for that course – I wish you the very best of luck. Just don’t say you weren’t warned.
Undergrads: do you think a postgraduate course will be worth the time, money and effort or do you have other plans? Postgrads: do you think you’ve made the right decision?