The realities of being a post-graduate student

Wave goodbye to Freshers


Any graduate will be more than likely to agree that the 3 years of their lives spent at university studying their under-grad have been some of the best years of their lives. But when those three years of binge drinking 99p Jaeger-bombs and ordering two-for-one dominos every night come to a dismal end, what could possibly more appealing than continuing these antics for another year or two?

Yes, studying a post-graduate degree of course has its perks. Achieving an impressive qualification that will guarantee success in future employment would be a wonderful milestone in anybody’s life, and a final ‘I told you so’ to the disapproving parents constantly nagging about that ‘alcohol problem’ throughout those last four years.

However, much to the disappointment of the many excited, hopeful yet naive graduates, studying a post-grad is ever so slightly different to the fun and games of under-grad, and here are the reasons why.

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Money

Oh Student Finance England, our saviour, our one true love in life. Delivering nobly that hefty instalment once every semester like Santa Claus on Christmas Day. Well, sometimes delayed by a week or ten, but we can get over that.

Undergraduate loans granted thousands of freshers and under-grads across the country with new wardrobes, endless nights out and questionable kebabs from the dodgy takeaways next door to the clubs.

Post-grads are still granted a loan, and still have the opportunity to spend it all on these little luxuries, in a perfect world, of course.

The new scheme offering the £10,000 loan for master’s degrees is a life saver. But literally, that is it. After that ridiculously massive tuition fee and first month’s rent are cruelly ripped away from one’s soul, there is only enough of the loan left over for a pint of Carlsberg from the local Spoons, if you’re lucky. Absolutely heart-breaking.

On the plus side it gives the first push into ‘responsible’ adult life. But who wants to be an adult just yet?

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Night Life

It’s an unfortunate and brutal reality check when a post-grad student attends the first night of freshers’. Beginning the night full of nothing but hope, positivity and about five double vodka lemonades, they finish feeing nothing but disappointment, old age and those forced-down tequilas coming back up.

What ever happened to those amazing nights in the best nightclubs? You don’t seem to recall how bad the venue smelt, how sticky everything was, and how doing one shot of Black Sambuca calls for an emergency visit to the toilets. Does the music really have to be that loud?

And damn, freshers are annoying. The club begins to feel more like a playground at a secondary school. Thoughts go streaming through your head in a panic, ‘Surely I wasn’t like that?’ But the answer is yes, I’m afraid you were.

Being past the point of no return at 11.30pm and repeatedly bugging the DJ to play Avicii seems like a lifetime ago, but we have all certainly been there. Perhaps being able to handle your drink and favouring a night with Netflix rather than attending the foam party at the Student Union is the true sign of growing up. I write forcing back tears.

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Work Load

With the first year of under-grad being a pleasant walk in the park requiring only 40 per cent to pass the year (which, FYI, doesn’t even contribute to the final degree grade), every student will experience that slap in the face from the demands and pressures of second and third year, where the grades actually count this time. Oh shit.

Its true that many students beginning their post-grad feel strongly prepared after the hell that was endured during the last few months of third year. Little do they know that they’re about to walk through them fiery gates of stress and deadlines all over again.

It is, of course, do-able. Just imagine the work-load in first year and times that by a thousand. Three years of leaving assignments to the night before and having sleep overs in the university library wasn’t exactly the best way to prepare for the demands of a master’s degree. Get familiar with the university library, this is your home now.

Despite getting thrown into the deep end of shark infested waters, managing the work load of a post-grad is a great way of time management and preparation for the ‘real world’ – a phenomenon that the majority of students constantly push to the back of their mind which is only discussed at the rare family gatherings with relatives who they didn’t even know existed.

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Sleep

Only when a person goes to university will they realise the luxury of sleep. And I don’t just mean that one time during the nighttime. I’m talking, 2pm, 5pm, 7pm, there is never an inappropriate time for a ‘quick’ nap.

It is common knowledge that under-grads depend upon napping to get through their days. Whether they’re dying in bed from alcohol poisoning or were up until 5am illegally streaming the new season of American Horror Story. Having that essential daily nap will help any student through their days.

Well, wave goodbye to those blissful lie-ins until 1pm. Post-grad degrees require attendance most days of the week, even if you aren’t time-tabled in. Study outside of the classroom is the key to success in the post-grad world, which unfortunately does not go hand-in-hand with them scheduled nap times that have been ever so faithfully relied on in the last three years.

The majority of post-grads have to commit to part-time work to maintain the cost of their degree, which means if they’re not working they’re in uni, and if they’re not in uni, they’re working. This leaves those mere couple of hours a night, the only time for that sacred beauty sleep. Get used to those bags under your eyes, they’re here to stay.

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Social Life

Believe it or not, getting wasted in a grotty nightclub in full fancy dress is not the only form of socialising. Going out for meals, hanging out with friends, even pushing the boat out and participating in a game of ten-pin bowling, these little luxuries are a thing of the past in the post-grad world. A masters degree will take over your life from the minute you get set that first assignment, no matter how hard you will try to fight it.

‘Your assignment is due in next week? Oh you’ve got ages!’ Those magic words that would never fail to convince you to ditch your assignments for some quality time with your loyal university squad. But despite their power and temptation, the rapidly approaching deadlines will always overtake them.

But becoming a post-graduate isn’t an instant death sentence for your once treasured social life. Saving up your money to spend on fancy (but slightly pretentious) cocktails in top-end bars rather than  losing your money along with your passport and dignity in bottom-end bars will become a very guilty pleasure in life.

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Accommodation

If you didn’t live in halls of residence or student flats at some point during your under-grad, were you even an under-grad student at all? Halls of residence opened the first doors into ‘independent living’, but missing out the whole ‘cleaning up after yourselves’ bit. You could throw as many house parties as you wanted and order as much takeaway as you could handle without the massive inconvenience of tidying it all up afterwards.

Long gone are the days of cheap rent and the pissed off cleaners tidying up the mess and disgrace left over from the night before. Living in a house where you actually have to do the cleaning and tidying up isn’t as simple as your parents makes it look back home. Leaving that bowl with God knows what form of left-over food in it for several weeks suddenly seems a bit more disgusting than it did in halls.

And the house parties. Oh, the house parties. Wait, what’s a house party?

Nothing can top the parties thrown in halls. Cramming in the entire of the university year group along with the majority of Asda’s alcohol aisle into the shabby and dated communal area, you could make as much noise and spill as much £3 wine as you wanted without a worry in the world.

When it is your own house however, you simply cannot afford to pay the maintenance repairs of the ripped off toilet seat and the suspicious looking hole punched into the wall, never mind dealing with the wrath of the landlord. Plus, the thought of spending the night in watching terrible low-budget horror films is now much more appealing than having the university Rugby Union team turn up with five crates of Fosters at 1am.

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Despite the heartache of leaving behind the wonderful drunk under-graduate life, post-graduates will quickly discover the wonderful opportunities that will be introduced to them which are the stepping stones into successful life. While going out to the local student event every Tuesday night suddenly doesn’t seem as appealing as it once did, earning money through hard work and studying something you’re actually passionate about does.

Yes, you will wave goodbye to Freshers, but you will say hello to so many better things in life. It will be worth it in the end.