As my masters course comes to a close, I have begun reflecting on how I’ve changed as a person, both socially and academically. Thinking back to last year, I remember being nervous about starting the course. I felt that my time as an undergraduate had been a disappointment. Although I’d graduated with a 2:1, I felt I had failed socially and hadn’t gained any work experience. I almost felt like I was doing a masters just to keep in education and that, in terms of making progress, I had to treat it as a last chance saloon.
While I'm not the greatest person at being able to recognise my own achievements, I can safely say that the masters course has been a success for me socially, academically and for my future. As mentioned in a previous post, I’ve made more of an effort to make friends and socialise this time round. I have also changed a lot academically. The two are tied together, as I have gained more confidence in meeting new people as well as talking about my research interests. Being able to discuss work with others on my course has directly helped to improve my work and overall knowledge of social research.
The key to this change for me has been to push myself and look for opportunities, wherever possible. I began to develop my academic skills and knowledge by engaging with others on my course, not just in a practical way (e.g. getting feedback on my work) but also in the social way of learning from other people's experiences and ideas. For me, there has been a direct correlation between improving socially and improving academically.
Improving socially has also helped my mental well-being, and having the ability to socialise more has helped me to understand myself better as a person and understand what I want to do with my future.
Doing a masters and completing it has (if nothing else) showed me that I can do a full piece of research and it has given me the confidence to believe that I might be able to do a PhD, something I hadn't previously considered a possibility. I didn't think I would be able to do a sustained piece of research. Now I feel confident and have developed a love for doing research and being in an academic environment. I don’t want to leave it!
For anyone considering a masters or starting one soon, I would say that while the course can be tough and a lot of hard work (particularly the dissertation), it does provide a fantastic opportunity to meet new people and move forward academically. Being able to design and conduct my own research has been a brilliant experience and I have no doubt that choosing to study for a masters has been a huge success and one I have no regrets over doing.
Peter Shaw, MA Social Research