Helen McGuire (Student Blogger)
After two months of blood, sweat and a few tears I have finally received a place on an English Literature postgraduate course. If you’re considering postgraduate study here are a few pearls of wisdom that I’ve picked up throughout the application process to help you along.
1) Do your research
You may be set on staying at Manchester for your postgraduate study, but do give yourself plenty of time to think through all of your options. I started researching courses and institutions about a year ago, mostly through the internet as there are many websites now dedicated to profiling postgraduate courses. I would also recommend having a look on www.thestudentroom.com as you can often get more honest opinions from students who are taking the course at the moment.
2) Postgraduate Study Fair
I have championed this study fair many times on this blog but it genuinely is a great way to find out about different institutions and speak to representatives from them. I would also suggest attending the talks offered on the day, in particular the talk about funding.
3) Preparation, Preparation, Preparation
The application process can appear relatively straightforward, but it is incredibly time consuming. Be prepared to draft and re-draft your academic CV and personal statement. You may need to request a transcript which can often take a few weeks to get hold of and you need to give your tutors plenty of time to write your references. The only way you can achieve all this by the deadline is by being prepared and organised.
This is the thorn in the side of every prospective postgraduate student. Although the cost of some courses initially may shock you (they definitely shocked me!), there are many external and internal funding opportunities for postgraduate students. The key is giving yourself plenty of time to find out what opportunities are available for you and give yourself the best chance of qualifying for them. If you aren’t successful (and many people are not) then you can study part time or even take a year out. If all else fails the bank of mum and dad is always worth a shot…
5) Keep the faith!
Overall I found applying for postgraduate courses far from a walk in the park. It’s incredibly difficult to find out reliable, accessible information and you can often feel like you’re on your own without much of a support network. However, it did make me realise just how much I was prepared to invest in studying at postgraduate level and when I received my offer it all seemed worthwhile. If you are truly committed the idea of postgraduate study then have confidence in your own abilities.