My journey to postgraduate study

"Officially a graduate!"

Since graduating with my Bachelors in Art History in 2014, the idea of completing a postgrad was a long way off. I put up obstacles in my own path: I didn’t have the money, for the course nor the cost of living, I didn’t feel like I had high enough grades, and I quickly managed to let all of the usual negativity we all tend to think about straight out of finishing an undergraduate degree get stuck in my head. Riding the high of actually graduating I found myself, like many other graduates, in a bit of a rut.

“Something will come up soon!”

Admittedly, it did take just over a year (a very long year, full of long walks and lots of Instagram posts of scenery...) But take it from someone who’s been there, it will get better! After going through the motions of the odd job here and then and then finally falling into one that I could stick with, watching a lot of the friends I graduated with accomplish amazing things from their own Masters studies, I found out about Postgraduate Loans, and it opened up all the doors I felt had been closed.

That’s not to say I wasn’t still engaging in Art History in any way I could during my time out of education. I became a collaborator for the blog We Are Not A Muse (this is alongside other Plymouth Uni graduates, so give it a read to learn about the amazing lives of forgotten female artists!) WANAM allowed me to channel all of my passion into an outlet that was pressure free, but still academically engaging enough to keep my love for art and art history steadily going.

Adapting to Postgrad Study can be a massive leap for some, sometimes more so than your Undergraduate degrees. Luckily, I’ve lived in Plymouth all of my life, completed my undergrad at Plymouth Uni and still have my family and friends around me. This isn’t to say that I hadn’t planned to move away for my masters, but unfortunately, loan or not, I still was unable to afford the costs of living without working what would have had to be full-time on top of my university studies.

That was one of the things that shaped my application experience. Don’t forget that your masters, is YOUR degree. If you know what you want to specialise in, look for programmes of study that are focused around this, you may get frustrated trying to find one to suit your interests, but it’s definitely worth it in the end. After writing my Personal Statement and tailoring it to fit each application, finding an example of my strongest work and filling out countless applications, I ended up with offers from 5 universities.

“What makes this the right course for you?”

Having lived in Plymouth my whole life, and then doing my undergraduate here, Plymouth was definitely on my radar as top 2 in my decision making process. Narrowing down my other options and working through budgeting, accommodation, a job, was one of the more stressful aspects of the application process. In the end, it was between Birkbeck College in London, and Plymouth, and as I’m sure many people experience, I just could not afford to live there with the higher course fees and cost of living.

“Well, 5 years after my first induction, I’m back”

 So, Plymouth it was! Being a Research Masters, this course greatly appealed to me as my study is shaped about what I want to learn about and what I want to specialise in. Perhaps some people find it odd to stay with the same institutions to complete whichever level of higher education you want to gain, but walking back through Plymouth really made me feel at home.

"I was ready to go 'back to school' and ready to learn new things; going through the process of meeting new people all over again while already feeling comfortable with my lecturers and people around university made my transition to a masters level a whole lot easier."

It really is worth working long hours, both when studying and working, spending 97% of your time with your nose in some kind of book, and stopping your friends mid conversation because you have a brainwave and have to write it down!