As I see it, there are three fundamental reasons why people decide to plunge immediately into a Masters degree.
The first is pure, unrivalled, academic passion: a love-affair that will one day find you smugly dealing out the reading lists from your own leather wing chair, teaching in an office only two corridors away from where you currently reside.
The second is sharp-edged business ambition, felt by the efficient, C.V. savvy student with an eye for the employment pages. They know that, in some industries, the MA is fast becoming the new BA: employers are wanting that extra-special something to differentiate them from the homogeneity of the degree-bearers. For type two, degrees are yesterday’s news.
Our third and final type is procrastination. These finalists can’t face the decisions involved with the outside world and therefore escape these pressures by remaining in the motherly arms of education.
If you find yourself currently fitting into the final type, I would advise you to think again. On the January checklist of references, funding applications and research proposals, your top priority should be questioning your own dedication to the cause. If you can’t find a better reason than “there are no jobs; I can’t think of anything better to do and this way I can defer the decision for another year in the hope of national financial overturn”, I just hope you aren’t studying economics.
Taking a Masters for the sake of it is no longer financially viable if you aren’t able to pay from your own pocket. There is a mighty price tag to shift, and current funding opportunities are taking a turn for the worse: the undergraduate upheavals of 2012 are turning into the predicted postgraduate funding nightmares of 2k13. If you are one of these enviable aristocrats able to fund yourself, you are only proving the recent assertions that Masters are turning into the ‘preserve of the wealthy’.
Instead of panicking over the financial red-zone, consider taking time out of education. Get out for your sanity and maturity. Take a break from the bubble. The majority of us haven’t been out of full-time education since age four, glimpsing it only briefly over the years in our Saturday jobs and summer vacation plans.
Enter the real world, meet new people, learn how to cook and clean and get a dingy flat with a couple of unhygienic friends who play the guitar and keep exotic pets. Try and find a job. Have the youth experience where everything in your room does not have to be PAT tested, and therefore live with the adrenalin thrill of knowing that your Poundland hairdryer could blow up any day now.
Liberation, even if only temporary, could be especially beneficial to us Oxbridge-leavers. We are constantly incarcerated in the libraries, books and equations of our subjects and frequently forget that some things cannot be learned in the UL.
There is no failure in craving reality, so make your decision and be your own master.