I am sure you do not need me to tell you that completing any Master’s degree is extremely difficult. Crazy workloads, lack of sleep, coupled with excessive energy drinks and maybe dealing with the fear of entering into a new environment again are all part and parcel of the Master’s experience.
As true as all of this is, I am completely certain it all sounds familiar to you. Where have you heard all of these things before? That’s right, Bachelor’s degrees! All of these things are what comes along with making the commitment to undertake a qualification to improve your career prospects and that is exactly what you sign up for with a Master’s degree.
As heavy as the workload is, I promise you it can be accomplished. By the time you have completed your three years’ degree, you would have learnt how to push yourself to the limit intellectually and this skill and determination can carry you through a Master’s degree, if it can be maintained throughout. A Master’s degree is nothing to be intimidated by if you were able to complete your Bachelor’s. Sometimes it can even be a way to redeem a bad undergraduate degree grade. I have friends who have achieved 2:2 and below in their Bachelor’s and were still able to complete Master’s degrees. There is absolutely no past grade achieved at one moment in time that can define how determined a student is to succeed at another moment in time. Nonetheless, you should still be aware and mentally prepared for what you will be in for if you choose to do a Master’s course. Below I have listed some of the differences I came across whilst completing my own.
The time frame which you are given to complete an assignment is shortened by approximately 3x (a three-week time limit in Bachelor’s would be worth one week for Master’s). There is no time to be wasted and time must be pre-scheduled around deadlines for work and socialising, otherwise it becomes incredibly easy to neglect one aspect of life to prioritise another. Furthermore, when something is going wrong with an unfair lecturer or maybe the fact that there have been 8 deadlines in a 10-day period, there is no time to complain. Time becomes such a precious resource that it cannot be wasted on anything other than completing work or revising for an exam.
The marking becomes far harsher, by about 10%; therefore a first class Bachelor’s coursework would be a 2:1 (upper second class or merit) at Master’s level as you are expected to be producing work of exceptional quality. This can be a difficult pill to swallow at the beginning because the use of initiative is relied upon heavily and your previously high standard of work is now considered average or less than average. However, this is all part of the experience and only strengthens your work.
Explaining an assignment? That becomes a luxury of the past. Other than a brief overview, the vast majority of lecturers will not provide any further guidance for assignments or labs. As you have completed the Bachelor’s degree previously, it is expected that you have a high level of knowledge before beginning the assignment or being presented the topic. For this reason lecturers (generally) do not supervise for Master’s coursework nearly as much as they do for Bachelor’s coursework. Maintaining good friendships with those around you is crucial during a Master’s course because there is always someone who knows something that you do not know and they can only help you, in exchange for you helping them.
To answer the original question, can you survive a Master’s degree?
The answer is dependent upon whether you were able to survive your Bachelor’s degree. If you made it through your Bachelor’s degree, then the answer is yes, but with a pinch of salt. Determination is absolutely key! Particularly during the dissertation period, it is imperative that you do not lose focus.
Always remember: firstly, there is nothing beyond your reach and secondly, it is perfectly natural and expected for anyone to get bad grades now and then, as long as you keep improving your work.
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