Masters degree as a mature student, a review

I’m writing this blog to help you understand what to expect from studying a masters degree later in life. Did I find it useful? I met some really interesting people that I hope to keep in my life in the future. Would I recommend it? Only if you’re super bored with your life and work but expect no easy ride. If you want a break from life, you’ll be better off spending that money travelling and taking up surfing lessons.

I have to admit I was super excited to have secured a place in one of the top universities in the world. As a senior management professional, I knew others that had tried but didn’t get in. The only thing I hadn’t realised was the amount of work it required.

On a weekly basis, I’d have four to five classes to attend in lectures, read 100 plus pages for each to discuss in small group tutorials as well as hold in-class presentations twice per term and write 2,000 – 3,000 word assignments per module/class twice a term.

Another thing I was not prepared for was academic writing. The way arguments are framed, in perspective of other arguments and how limited your own poetic license is. This is predominantly a British education system approach to teaching which hints to post colonial education, drawing out what has been laid out before.

At the university I went to, I also realised each module had its own parameters for good framing and presentation, largely set out by the lead tutor. Irrespective of how many additional classes I took for example on how to write a book review, how to write a critique etc the central student learning and development was misaligned to the individual module requirements. That left me frustrated and as a paying student, annoyed at the power game academia has over the students, and leaving its huge weaknesses unacknowledged.

This last point was a point of discussion throughout my studies. Academics thinking they got it all worked out whilst they lack real-life experience in the field of their expertise. More dangerously, they advise and often participate in political life based on what they read by someone who written something fifty years ago. Academia is a dangerous ground to walk on when seeing right through its weaknesses yet having to abide by its rules.

That transcribed to loving some classes, those mainly taught by open-minded people who not only loved their craft but they loved teaching and interacting with their student debates too. In too many cases, the majority of the academics failed to do that. They focused too much on point scoring, coming across like some sort of activists despite being solely research based, and pushing arrogance in their game.

Lastly but not least, consider and ask what practical skills a masters will provide you with. I got stuck into a situation where the theory was central to most discussions but excluded current affairs unless it was Trump or neoliberalism bashing or glorifying Marxism.

This is how anachronistic academia can be, and yet it is expected we build a future through it.

In all truth, it’s not more than another subscription service, that will get you more views and remove the ads.

It’s good for visibility, but it can also make you feel invisible at the same time.

ATIVAN/AUGUSTINE

Even the young Augustine would be no match

for Ativan’s airless latch, and there’s no grace

quite like his Grace who accords each urge

its place, then hastens through good nights:

bedded, celestially unshaken, he’s shirred

all weight, the drapes of consciousness closed,

doubts chased, words left unstirred. Hippo supposed

chastity, continence, should come—but not yet.

Not young, I’m still in heat. Forget the sleep

of sheep beneath southering flocks of geese,

the drug’s sweet release from grief, hollow clouds

settling down, softening the sheets. I’ll mete

time grooming, cleaning teeth: even without,

some nights I sleep. Come uncoupled, complete.

Poem by John Hennessy

hennessy
John Hennessy, poet

AWARDS AND ACCOLADES

  • Transatlantic Review Award in Fiction from the Henfield Foundation
  • 2007-2008 Resident Fellowship in Poetry at the Amy Clampitt House
  • Recipient of the 2012 Elizabeth Matchett Stover Memorial Award for Poetry from Southwest Review.

Hennessy is the author of two collections of poems, Bridge and Tunnel and Coney Island Pilgrims. He has published fiction, poetry, and a variety of literary and critical essays in many journals and anthologies, including Best American Poetry 2013, The Believer, Harvard Review, The Huffington Post, The New Republic, Poetry, The Sewanee Review, Southwest Review, The Yale Review, What’s Your Exit? A Literary Detour Through New Jersey, and Best New Poets 2005. Hennessy is a contributing editor to Fulcrum: an annual of poetry and aesthetics, and he is the poetry editor of The Common, a new magazine based at Amherst College’s Frost Library. He teaches at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.