Adam starts his Post Graduate Masters course this week and I am, of course, very proud of everything he’s done in the last few years. It all started back in 2017 when he applied for a full time access course in Humanities and Social Science to enable him to go to University. I wanted to write more about how his degree went, how he acheived a 2:1 degree whilst working full time, becoming a new dad, learning to drive and without leaving school with hardly any GCSE’s. I’m incredibly proud of how he’s managed to get a degree during a global pandemic too.
Studying a degree as a mature student: Adam’s Experience
My partner Adam will be the first to admit school was not his strong point and despite trying, his teachers didn’t have a lot of faith in him. Going back to college to study full time alongside working a full time job and then finding out we were pregnant with Felix was a very busy time. However he did really well, finished his course in the first year and was able to apply to a local University. Oh, he was also learning to drive during this and his first year of University too. It’s safe to say we were pretty busy.
The First and Second Year of an Undergraduate Degree
He originally applied for a degree in Criminology but changed within the first week to a degree in Philosophy, Religion and Ethics. Honestly, I always thought a philosophy degree would suit Adam better because he loves listening to debate, he enjoys hearing peoples reasoning for those big questions and he did pretty well in his first year getting an overall 2:1 for his first year despite everything going on. Felix was born in a complicated way back in 2018, just weeks after he started the first semester, and he was having to commute by train which was stressful alongside starting a new job where he worked all through the night instead of just late evenings. He was very tired trying to be a new dad, study, work and learn to drive all in one go but he did it, and he did really well, particularly in that first year.
His second year started pretty smoothy back in 2019. Semester one was pretty laid back as we had made some family changes – we moved our eldest to a local school as I was having a hard time with the walk to and from post-c-section and Adam was knackered a lot of the time from work. However, he could drive and we had a family car which did really help make things a bit easier as Adam no longer had to leave hours before his lecture which allowed him a little more sleep. Then in early 2020 everything changed thanks to the covid19 pandemic and he was met with offers of extensions, some online lectures and tutorials. He was put on furlough from his hospitality job and finally had the time to study but, we also had to homeschool and its safe to say it was an equally challenging time. Living in a small flat, all of us in one room trying to work and study with the distraction of a two-year-old running about and not being allowed outside much – as well as not having a garden – meant us feeling a lot of frustration, pressure and very much on top of each other. It was hard.
Studying a degree during a pandemic hasn’t been easy but Adam is graduating officially next month
Things of course were a bit different in September, the first semester of his third year. Our eldest was back at school and Adam had a selection of lectures online at home and in person, but in smaller groups. He was still furloughed so his work wasn’t really impacting his study but I feel this weird time and not having the structure of the first year and most of his second year really affected his learning. Third years are tough, with a big dissertation to write and having to rely on your own independent learning for most of it meant having to be very proactive and Adam just wasn’t in that frame of mind. However, he managed to push through and got everything handed in which finally gave him his degree classification. I can not even begin to say just how proud I am of Adam, that he managed to do a full degree and get awarded an overall 2:1 despite a very complex learning process, being a new dad, working nights, learning to drive and a pandemic. The way he just got it done despite so many times of wanting to quit because of how exhausted he was but keeping it up anyway had me completely in awe. He isn’t finished yet and he hasn’t started a new career but he has an excellent foundation to build one now and I think his final year of study; doing his distance learning Masters degree will really help him in building a strong career, and hopefully enabling us to relocate next year.
Masters Degree Application Through UCAS
After handing in his last few assignments in May Adam considered the possibility of doing a Masters degree. He was back and fourth for a few weeks and finally applied a couple of days before the deadline. Applying for a Masters degree in the UK is a pretty straightforward process, especially if you’re returning to your University that awarded your degree. Adam applied through UCAS where he had to set up a post-grad account so he could send through his application. All he needed to know was the course, university, write a personal statement and submit a reference. Adam sent an email to a couple of his lecturers that taught him in his third year to ask for a reference, gave the name and email for UCAS to contact them and then submitted everything. It was actually done really quickly and a conditional offer came through within the next day. The condition was a degree classification of a 2:2. As soon as the results came throgh Adam sent them to the admissions team and the offer became unconditional offering him a place on his post grad masters degree in Reconcilliation and Peacebuilding. Once this was done Adam applied for a postgraduate masters loan through Student Finance. This is a one off amount designed to cover the fees of the tuition and help with some living costs. It is currently just over £11,000 and allows us to pay for our rent and tuition fees for Adams final year of study. It will be added on to his other student loans and payable back when his income exceeds £21,000 per year.
Staring a distance learning Masters Degree
Adam will be doing a distance learning Masters programme at Winchester University which is a little different than his previous years of study. This course is designed to be digital and he’s been really impressed with how quick the team of lecturers have started sharing details of the programme. There’s a facebook group for the students, he will be working on Microsoft Teams, plus the University online module pages. He has already been given his timetable which are all work friendly hours of 6-8pm three times a week. This means even with work he has plenty of time to rest, and study rather than rushing to a lecture after a full night shift. There is no commute which makes things easier and as he had to do the majority of his third year online he already knows how certain programmes work. I think it will be really good for him and whilst it is a good follow on from his degree, the change of subject will be interesting for him.
Postgraduate Masters degrees are graded slightly differently. The minimum pass mark is higher at 50% and you either Pass, Merit or Distinction overall. He has three choices for his big project which include a 15,000-20,000 word disertation paper, an internship or a community based project. I personally think the internship will be the most suitable to Adam’s learning methods and desire for a career but this does depend on how it will affect his current place of work. Hopefully it’s something he can find out about in the coming weeks and I can share more about what an Internship/Consultancy module during a post-grad masters degree actually is and means.