As I finished my dissertation at the beginning of last year, I began to worry about what on earth I was going to do after university. I knew I liked writing, sleeping, eating and clothes, but had no idea what I was going to do with my skills, or indeed, what skills I actually possessed.
I’m quite young in my year (22nd of August, an absolute baby) and pretty much swept through school just focusing on the next day, or the next exam, never really looking much more ahead than a few months. I went to university without thinking much about where I wanted to go after or any other options I might have had. I just knew I liked writing and reading, and it seemed like the natural progression in my life.
After I handed in my dissertation, I suddenly found myself at a loose end. I had a couple of assignments left for my degree, and realised that I actually had no plan set in place, no idea of my next steps, and frankly terrified because I had no clue what made me unique. A couple of my friends were coming back from placement year in September to continue in their fourth year, so I decided that, since I had no other ideas, I would stay on and do a Masters.
It was a bit of a whim, I can see that now. I love my course and eventually would like to do a PhD, but I gave the overall situation a relatively small amount of thought. I did a half-hearted spreadsheet of how I would handle my finances, found that I would have to get a job because the £10,000 loan would only cover my tuition fees and accommodation and go no further than that. I bought my first half-terms worth of books with my 21st birthday money, and set off to move back to Lincoln again.
It wasn’t until after the first week that I realised, I REALLY should have thought this through. I can barely manage to drag myself away from a book for longer than it takes me to sleep, and even if I had an easy working week, I had barely enough money to eat. I realise now that deciding to take on a second job, to help me with my finances, was a bad idea. When you apply for a Masters, you are advised to take on a job with no more hours than around 10, or else you won’t manage to keep up with your workload. Juggling my two jobs meant I would work Saturdays from 8am until 5pm at one job, then 7pm until 3am at my next job, then get up Sunday morning and repeat the whole scenario. I’d need two days to recover, Wednesdays I spent all day in seminars. I had two days to do work and then I had to start the whole ordeal all over again.
Understandably, this didn’t last long. After several crying episodes and a LOT of debating whether to drop out of not, I quit one of my jobs, asked to borrow money from my parents, and now I’m getting on a lot better. I am gradually learning that I can’t just treat this year like I’m a fourth year. It’s a much more advanced level than my undergraduate degree, and I’m bored of the undergraduate life. I used to be a huge party girl, now I just want to read and sleep.
This all being said, I absolutely adore my course. I am so passionate about literature and the staff at Lincoln make the entire experience so memorable and exciting. I am finding it really challenging, and I do wish I had thought more about postgraduate study so that I’d be more prepared. But I am having a good time, and I finally know what I want to do with my life, which excites me more than anything. I am so glad I haven’t dropped out, because this year has given me more time doing what I love, but also more time to figure out what skills I possess and gain the confidence to use them.
I would recommend doing postgraduate study at Lincoln to everyone, but only if they have really thought about it first.
This article is featured on Learning at Lincoln.