This summer I graduated. Before I finished, I wrote an article about the decisions facing students preparing to graduate. I wrote that I was planning on volunteering and working for a year and seemed quite content with my decision.
Okay, so that didn’t happen.
Anyone who knows me will know that I moaned my way through university. I practically ran from the library to the Law School to deliver my dissertation; I couldn’t get rid of it fast enough. Finally after four years: no more exams, no more essays, no more lectures and tutorials and all that nonsense. I was free!
Then came summer, and all of a sudden my plans for the year ahead started to look a bit unsubstantial and ‘wishy washy’. I found myself returning to an idea I had considered but not looked at too much: postgraduate study. I took time to look at different degree options and universities and, after a lot of thought, I made a choice: I was going back to university.
So, come September, I will be studying a Masters in Mediation and Conflict Resolution which is offered by the Law School. I am hoping this will lead to a career in mediation, something I have always had an interest in. Once I actually graduated I started to look at my decisions and thoughts differently. I felt that I finally had a direction; my decision to volunteer for a year had been based on the fact that I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do. I took this decision based on my belief that I can turn my interest into a career.
After deciding to return to uni, I had to start thinking about course fees and how to fund them. Some postgraduate courses are funded by SAAS, but not all, and even if SAAS do fund a course they may not provide full funding. Unfortunately my chosen course is not funded and I have not been lucky in gaining funding via a scholarship or bursary. I am funding my course with a Professional Career Development Loan (PCDL). PCDL’s are different to normal personal loans and you don’t start paying them back until your course is finished. It’s not an ideal solution because it obviously means taking on more debt but I feel that it’s best to return to university now rather than work and save the money for fees.
With the admin taken care of my thoughts turned to actually returning to uni; would I be starting from scratch? Luckily I am not going to a different university so there is no campus to figure out or systems to become familiar with. As with most new things there will be meeting new people and settling in with the class. Also there is the ‘learning curve’ of moving from an undergraduate to a postgraduate degree and from one core subject to another; both of which will involve different methods of learning and assessment. This is something I am looking forward to and I am hoping the change will be a positive one. At the moment, though, all I can do is guess and hope!
So while it will be a change stepping up from undergraduate to postgraduate, from mediation from law, it is a change I am very much looking forward to.
This decision is sticking.
By Zoe Calderwood
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