Are you currently studying for an MA? Take some time out from crying in the library and have a read of my top tips for making it through the year.
This post should really have been called ‘How to attempt to survive a Master’s’ as getting through the workload of an MA is something that I’ve really struggled with. The transition between undergrad and postgrad is actually pretty tricky, and something I was 100% not prepared for.
I finished my undergrad studies last year and came out with a First Class BA Hons in Magazine Journalism – which I enjoyed whole-heartedly. However, I decided after my three years of study I wanted to go on further and complete an MA. I’m currently studying Contemporary English Literature at Leeds Beckett University and, even though it’s a world away from journalism, I am enjoying it – and I’ve met some really great people.
Keeping it real
I won’t lie, my first semester was really tough and I have felt disheartened at times when getting feedback on my work. It’s hard to remember that I’m no longer studying at undergrad level and I’ve found myself beating myself up about not being good enough. As well as the higher standard of work expected, the change of adapting to a new university, new subject and new people is also daunting and trying to juggle studying, part time work and a social life can take a while to balance. A blog post I read recently from Sunbeams Jess perfectly summed this up as “jumping straight into third/fourth year workload but with first year social priorities.”
I’ll be honest, sometimes I’ve wondered whether choosing to do a Master’s in a completely different field was the right decision for me and I’ve had moments where I’ve doubted my abilities and wanted to quit. But I’ve now started semester two, my grades are improving and I’m finally starting to keep on top of the work load (kind of). I’ve realised that choosing to challenge myself is something to be proud of and I’ve learnt a few crucial ways to help you keep on track if any of you are studying an MA too.
This sounds like a given but it can sometimes be hard to stay on top of your workload. Invest in a hefty planner or diary that you can write absolutely everything in so you’ll never forget, including seminar times and deadlines.
Do the reading
Again, this sounds obvious, but it’s so easy to forget – particularly the secondary material that is often needed during seminars. Skip that episode of the US Office that you were going to watch and do an hour or so of reading just to keep on top of things. You’ll be thanking yourself when essay season comes around.
Arrange study dates
It’s so easy to procrastinate when you’re trying to study on your own so keep yourself motivated and arrange a few study dates with your course friends throughout the term. Book out a study room and have motivational Spotify playlist on in the background. My group’s favourite is the Independent Ladies playlist #sorrynotsorry.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help
There are so many people at university that you can ask for help, whether that’s booking an appointment with the academic team to help you with your referencing or arranging a meeting with your tutors to get some feedback on a draft essay. They’re all there to help and there’s no such thing as a stupid question.
All nighters aren’t your friend
I’m speaking from experience here, you will gain nothing from an all nighter. Leaving things until the last minute is not cool and no one wants to see the sun rise in the library.
Don’t be so hard on yourself
Believe it or not, MAs are HARD. You might have been used to getting the top grades at undergrad but a Master’s is completely different. Don’t beat yourself up if you haven’t done as well as you thought in one of your modules, you’re doing great – trust me.