A postgraduate programme of study is a huge step up from an undergraduate degree. You’ll need to be prepared to work harder, dig deeper and stay motivated- all on your own. But most likely you know all this already. But what about the stuff you don’t know (yet)? The stuff you learn through trial and error? What do those who’ve been there and come successfully out the other side say?
What’s the one piece of advice successful University of Glasgow Arts graduates would give to incoming students?
Make the most of your time there! The university has so many amazing facilities and services available, which are easy to take for granted until you’re back out in the real world again without all of this at your fingertips. Look out for useful workshops and extra lectures happening around campus, and if something sparks your interest don’t be afraid to ask how you can get involved.
I’d advise you write. Write lots and all the time. The world is not interested in your thoughts and findings if they’re just in your head. You have to learn to articulate your research and your arguments in an engaging and articulate way. Fluency of expression will count for a lot, whether in published papers or speaking at conferences.
And if I’m allowed a second piece of advice, don’t restrict yourself to your own topic. It’s all too easy to just plough your own furrow. Stop and look around and learn about other things. Understanding the broader context – or completely unrelated contexts – for your work will become crucial if you plan on a career in academia.
Take some risks when you enter into a postgraduate degree. Having one degree already under your belt means you come into your second degree with a certain amount of confidence and comfort – take advantage of this. Try a new sport, learn a new language, and take up a hobby. Close your books, leave the library and try something new and exciting!
Get the most out of your studies, your friendships and your relationships with your tutors and, when you leave the university, go for it!
Learn time management and join the student societies.
Find something you think you’ll like and try it. If it doesn’t work out, try something else. Don’t be afraid to take a chance in your career, even if you can’t see the path far beyond it. If you work hard, opportunities will arise and events will unfold in ways that are impossible to predict. If you decide you need to change direction, it isn’t as difficult as you might think to transfer your skills and side-step into another discipline.
If I could offer one piece of advice it would be: don’t be fearful of engaging with what’s in front of you. Speak up, have opinions – it’s what you’re there for. And enjoy it, if it is within you to do so. For me, it really was a golden time. Allow it to make a difference to you. And try and find a path you want to follow through it all: it isn’t easy to know if what we ought to be doing and what we want to do are one and the same. There’s a subtle difference: what you want to do might not be what you ought to do. Advice usually goes along the lines of ‘follow your dreams’ but dreams are also smoke: you might want to be the next Rihanna, but you might have a better life and a more rewarding, enjoyable one, if you come to realise that maybe you should really be a biologist.
My own advice? Trust yourself. Be confident in your abilities as a writer and researcher, and don’t be afraid to really go for broke with your work- take advantage of the amazing opportunity postgraduate study affords you to hone your skills in your chosen field.