The seven emotional phases of doing a Masters degree

tl;dr – lots of sleepless nights


Pre-arrival excitement

In this phase you are excited about your job prospects, about elongating your studies, and about all the new things you will learn. You feel smart, invincible – you are getting a Masters degree! What an accomplishment!

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The "this isn't so bad" phase

You get to about the second week of uni and you have twenty readings and an assignment but its actually not so bad so far.

You can do this, you might have to sacrifice a little bit of sleep time and take a little break from Netflix binge sessions, but you can definitely accomplish this exciting step towards your future!

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The unravelling

Suddenly, you start feeling less optimistic.

Did you always have those dark circles under your eyes? And since when did you need so much caffeine to function at a basic human level?

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You start writing messy to-do lists on your wall and there's yellow post-it notes all over the place. You also have a colourful little countdown until the next break right by your bed.

The rapid decline

In this phase you are researching jobs that do not require a Masters degree and calculating how much money you might save if you just leave now.

You have become very good at militant napping, forcing yourself to fall asleep instantly in any 15 minute break you have and quickly waking up to study again. There's a big pile of books and articles on your desk that you keep looking at with a death stare, hoping you can make it disappear.

Every time you check your Moodle you lose a little bit of hope that you will finish this.

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The first deadlines week

All of your assignments are due at the same time and you also have the flu. You pull five all-nighters in a row and go on an involuntary all-ramen-noodles diet that will make you resent the dish for years to come.

You spend a lot of time in line at the Starbucks for coffee with extra espresso shots, and you become well acquainted with the library. You might even become territorial about one of the seats and force people to get up if they occupy it because, let's face it, you no longer care about basic social cues.

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Post-deadline-week high

You did it!

You made it through the first set of deadlines. You feel free, light, happy! You notice a little colour returning to your face, you sleep more now, and you even start eating normal food again!

You might even have time for a little trip to London here and there, or to socialise with other people and actually catch up on Netflix. Your genetic memory has completely forgotten the pain you went through two weeks ago so you will definitely be very surprised come next deadline week.

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But, for now, you are happy. I mean, you're getting a Masters degree! How great is that!

Then, the cycle repeats itself

Disclaimer: Despite the many stressful incidents described in this article, getting a Masters degree at Royal Holloway is a fun experience where you learn a lot, meet new people, and literally live in a campus that looks like Hogwarts.

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