Thursday, 6 October 2011

Big girl school

Starting life as a postgraduate student is very different from when you enroll as an undergraduate. I've not quite made it to matriculation yet (that's on the 9th) but I'm getting there with paperwork and figuring out what exactly is going to be going on. So, why is it different?

As an undergraduate, you don't exactly get your hand held through the process, but it's not far short. If you head to university straight from school, your guidance teachers or career advisors help you through the application process via UCAS and you go on school visits to universities and so on. When you get accepted to your chosen university, you get heaps of paper. Letters about the uni, what there is to do in the city where it's located, what's going to happen when you get there, about your halls of residence (if you're staying in them), the Union, societies... It's never ending! It's reassuring too though because when the average age of freshman students is 18, knowing what you're going into makes leaving home for the first time seem more like an adventure.

Being a postgraduate doesn't work quite like that. I've already detailed the application process I went through, which you can read here. Since the School or university doesn't have a guaranteed number of postgraduate places per year, admissions doesn't quite work the same. In short, you're a lot more responsible for making sure that you have everything you need!

I wouldn't want you to think this is a criticism. It is, in fact, a good way of doing things. If you're planning on going into a life of academia, you need to get used to how admin works from the word go. When you've got the responsibility for your own learning, you should have the responsibility of making sure you know how things work. You get the chance to practice, with a trained eye supervising you, instead of a safety net.

So, I guess I'm all grown up now. I'm quickly learning who, where, what and when things go on and while it can be a little bit scary or stressful, it's pretty cool to feel like you're finally in control of exactly where you're going. Thumbs up from me!

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