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We've been helping students find the right postgraduate course for over a decade.
Every year we award thousands of pounds to new postgraduate students as part of our FindAMasters Scholarships. This year's winner of our top £5,000 award was Jennie Hockey. Jennie has now started her Masters at Brighton and Sussex Medical School. In this first blog post she talks about her decision to pursue a Masters, her search for the perfect course and her initial experiences of postgraduate study.
I am now two months in to my Masters in Global Health. I agonised over the decision and applied so long ago now that it blows my mind to say that I am 'two months in' - but there it is!
In this blog I’m going to talk a little about how I decided on postgraduate study and how I’ve found the experience so far.
The two main considerations for me when I was applying were: one, do I need to do a Masters and two, can I do a Masters?
I’ve always loved my topic, and the interest was never going to be an issue. However, I wasn’t sure it was the wisest decision professionally. I was concerned that waiting another year before I got on the career ladder would hold me back in the future. I was also worried about funding a Masters and taking on any debt.
Luckily for me, the UK government pledged to offer postgraduate study loans for this academic year which came at the perfect time for me. Before that I had looked in to other loans and was told the most appropriate option would be a Career Development Loan. Well this settled points one and two for me. If the bank considered a Masters degree to be a step forward in my career, then I would too!
With the decision to study a Masters made, I started wading my way through the gallons of information online.
This was when I found FindAMasters.com. Reading the blogs and advice pages I found out about other funding opportunities and came across useful articles to help students decide if a Masters really is the best option for them. For me, all the signs pointed to yes!
I then spent some time narrowing down my options by comparing different courses on the website and figuring out which factors were the most important to me. Some of the programmes seemed really interesting, but far too theoretical or far too focused on just one aspect.
The course I eventually chose was at Brighton and Sussex Medical School. Once I’d found the overview I read their own pages to get some more detail. This course prides itself on being interdisciplinary, preparing you for a career and covering topics from up to date research. All things that I had identified as essential for me.
Unlike when I applied for my undergraduate degree, this time there were no UCAS hurdles, no choice from 1-5 and most importantly- no waiting for my A level results. This meant that not only was the application much quicker. . . And so was the reply!
I was so thrilled to be accepted that I couldn’t stop smiling for days, which may have proved unnerving to other passengers on the bus! I don’t actually think it sunk in until I was sitting in a classroom again, attending my induction day.
If, like me, you choose to study a Masters at a new university then you’ll probably undergo the same odd feeling of being a fresher and a final year student, all rolled into one.
Two months in, I still get lost on campus, forget my uni login, and I am constantly learning about the 'best place for ice cream' and 'quietest computer labs' from students who have been here longer than me.
And yet, all my assignments count towards my final grade and I have had my first deadline for my dissertation proposal.
While that did seem a bit daunting at first, it is actually really reassuring to know that none of my time here is wasted. It was such a huge commitment for me to apply, that it is good to know every second of it is important.
Having taken a couple of years away from studying I was a little nervous about writing essays and taking notes again, but the lecturers have been so supportive that I needn’t have worried.
My class are amazing. I mean, don’t tell them I said that, but they are. We are all from pretty varied backgrounds both academically and personally, which means we have some really good debates in the class and (let’s be honest) around the pub table.
Studying a topic that we picked through careful consideration and out of interest, rather than what our school recommended based on our A levels, means that everyone on the course is passionate about it, and will take their knowledge and interest somewhere.
We are always told to ‘make connections’ and ‘network’ and what better way to do that than by studying alongside people who could one day be big names in your chosen field.
And speaking of big names, I’ve already been taught by some of the leading researchers in Global Health and had a sneak peek into the insights that will shape the next 20 years of the field. And what is even greater than hearing these inspirational people speak, is having them listen.
As a Masters student, you are taken seriously. When you have an opinion, people listen. Sometimes they will challenge your point of view and sometimes you will challenge theirs. This two-way exchange is a great thing to be a part of.
I felt pretty lost at the end of my undergraduate degree and, as my mum will verify, could regularly be heard yelling ‘I’m qualified for nothing!’ at various job websites.
But I can already see that the end of this Masters won’t put me back there. I’m gaining contacts, job ideas, transferrable skills and confidence through my course that will help me immensely when I’ve finished.
We're grateful to Jennie for sharing her experiences and we'll be checking back soon to see how her Masters is going. In the meantime, you can read more about what postgraduate study involves and why it might be worth considering for you. You can also sign up now to be amongst the first to hear about next year's FindAMasters Scholarships.