Musings from a Soon-to-be Graduate

Graduation frame - public domain image Text added by Grace @ Cultural Life.

Graduation frame – public domain image
Text added by Grace @ Cultural Life.

Last year, I was walking to class one day and another student was talking on his phone in front of me. Snippets of his conversation floated back to me and one of them was:

“Can you believe it? I’m actually getting a degree!”

I smiled when I heard this because I understood the feeling. As students, we know that we will get our degrees, as long as we study and work hard — well, even the students who don’t work hard can get degrees, but their degree classification will most likely suffer! — but it still feels slightly surreal.

When I walked out of the exam room for the last time, having spent the past two hours intensely focused on writing exam answers, I felt a strange mix of happiness and wistfulness. Graduation is a time of change and transition, which can bring mixed emotions with it. As I reflect on the past few years, I can see how far I have come and how much I have changed from day one to the last day of my undergraduate degree studies. I have developed increased self-assuredness and strength, as well as confidence in my own abilities and determination to reach my goals and push through challenges.

I completed my degree at the end of May and I received my official result in June: I am graduating with a First Class Honours degree! As most of my readers are from North America, achieving a First in your degree is equivalent to a 4.0 GPA. Needless to say, I am very happy with my degree classification! I’ll share some photos after my graduation ceremony in a few weeks.

Jumping for joy! (Public domain image source)

On the whole, my undergrad experience wasn’t the stereotypical student life; my mother developed a serious illness in my first year of studying and it culminated in a year’s leave of absence from my studies while I coped with being her caregiver and all the responsibilities which it entailed. However, I returned to academic life after my leave of absence and the experience gave me a greater sense of perspective.

Meanwhile, although it is exciting to graduate, I am already busy formulating a plan for the next step: working while studying part-time for a Masters by Research.

I have a research proposal for a linguistics project which is ready to go ahead and I will be sharing more about this in the coming weeks. The only obstacle is that the project needs funding. Earlier this year, I applied for funding from an academic research council, but unfortunately I didn’t get it. There are no scholarships available; I have written to educational trusts in the hope of obtaining a small grant, but many of them only fund undergraduates or PhD students.

Public domain image

Academic funding budgets are small and have been cut in recent years. As a result, more and more graduates are turning to alternative and entrepreneurial ways of funding academic projects, including crowdfunding. As a student said in a Financial Times article,

“It’s really hard to find funding for postgraduate courses in the UK, in the same way that it’s really hard to afford the fees for undergraduate courses in the US”

I plan to work to fund living expenses and I will conduct my linguistics research part-time, which will take two years. Although I have mixed feelings about it, I am investigating crowdfunding as a funding method; my university has its own crowdfunding platform and other postgraduates have successfully raised funds.

Cultural Life is strictly non-commercial and is a space for me to share posts and connect with other bloggers. However, I decided to join Amazon Associates a few days ago after seeing that a few blogging acquaintances use it. If you click through to Amazon and make purchase anything via my Associates link, I get a tiny percentage as a reward for referring you to Amazon. Anything that I receive from being an Amazon affiliate is going to fund my project. Thank you very much!

Amazon.com

Amazon.co.uk

As always, I welcome feedback and discussion in the comments section. What advice would you offer to graduates who are transitioning to the next phase in their career?

Also, I am aware that crowdfunding can elicit negative responses — what do you think about the growing trend for postgraduate researchers to seek support via crowdfunding platforms? Please be honest! I’d love to hear what my readers think!

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18 thoughts on “Musings from a Soon-to-be Graduate

  1. Congratulations on graduating with such high honors! I’m impressed, especially since you have had some difficult struggles in your personal life at the same time. Best of luck in the future!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I can see the potential in crowd-funding and don’t really see what anyone has to lose by trying it. But… you knew there’d be a but didn’t you? – it might be age-related, but I guess in my day we got a job when we left Uni and then funded anything further we wanted to do by ourselves or did it in our spare time. Even PhD opportunities were scarcer than hen’s teeth. I’m not sure whether I’d be willing to contribute to crowd-funding a research project (in general, I mean, not yours specifically) – guess it would depend on what the research is and what would be involved in undertaking it – ie, is it something that rules out the possibility of working at the same time, or does it require expensive equipment/materials/course fees. Please don’t think I’m making any kind of point – I’m just sayin’ ‘cos you asked for honest opinions. Times change though – so I say go for it! People have a choice whether to contribute or not – it’s not like you’re forcing it on anyone.

    Congrats on the degree! A huge achievement – well done!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for being honest. 🙂 I have mixed views on crowdfunding too. On the one hand, I can see that it’s making use of the internet in an entrepreneurial way, but on the other hand, it’s essentially asking other people to fund an individual. I am incredibly privileged to have a BA, in a world where so many people are struggling to escape poverty and make a better life for themselves.

      Not to mention the fact that I am wary of being the target of online abuse — crowdfunding means putting yourself out there and as we all know, not everyone is nice on the internet!

      I’m planning to study for my Masters part-time and work part-time. In fact, I’m starting a new job this week, which is exciting! I would prefer to work and fund myself, but fees are so expensive. So I have been pondering crowdfunding, even though it does make me feel slightly uncomfortable!

      Like

      • Yes, indeed, I hadn’t thought of the online abuse angle, but there are lots of really pretty awful people out there, and sometimes it’s not easy to ignore them even when you know you should.

        Good luck with the new job! And however you decide to do it, I hope you find a way to continue with your studies. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Congratulations on both the degree AND getting it with such high honors! I can attest to the mix of happiness and nostalgia that comes with graduating, though I will say that it’s even more surreal when you finish school for good and begin working…. but that’s another discussion for another day.

    In terms of crowdfunding for education, I don’t see any problems with it as long as the intent is sincere. As you said, there is a growing trend of crowdfunding for things and it seems like these days, there are people out there who seem to think it’s the answer for everything and forget that there’s such a thing as, I don’t know, making it work for themselves. That being said, I think you should absolutely try as many resources as you have access to and more power to you if it works out well!

    On an unrelated topic, I don’t know your area of research but should you need subjects/interviewees for your project (and assuming I fit your criteria), I would be more than happy to help you out. My Master’s dissertation didn’t require me to interview anyone but for my friends who did, I know it was quite a hassle trying to find willing people so I’m just throwing this out there if you need someone further down the line. 🙂

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    • Thanks, Lillian. 🙂

      I’m going to work alongside my MA (in fact, I’m starting a new job this week!), so I’ll get some experience in the world of work. I’m looking forward to it and although I need to sort out how I’m going to juggle working with my MA research, I’m sure that I will learn a lot from it.

      I agree that people shouldn’t jump to crowdfunding as a first option. I’m not entirely comfortable with the idea of asking other people to fund my research, although I suppose that the principle isn’t much different from applying for scholarships. But I definitely agree with you about trying as many resources as possible.

      Thank you for volunteering. That’s very kind of you. 🙂 You’re right, it certainly isn’t easy to find people to interview. When I did my final-year undergrad project, I interviewed a few people and it went well, but it took a while to find people who were happy to be interviewed.

      My MA research is going to be based in my local area, so I’ll be looking for people who live and work in that area. But if I do an online survey at any time, I’ll be sure to let you know. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Congratulations Grace! Wow, graduating with honors! People will definitely be knocking down the doors to hire you! As far as the crowd funding goes, you can always try for a smaller amount, say a semester’s worth. Granted, depending on where you go to school the funding can still be quite a bit. However if you state you are using the funding for a semester, what classes you wish to take etc. then as someone state above, the sincerity will show and people will be more likely to fund you.

    If people decide to be rude and mean, then ignore them. (In other words, “Don’t feed the trolls.”)

    If you were using crowd funding to get a sports car or something else, then I think people would be more inclined to jude. This though, is something they can contribute to, your future, which in turn will contribute to the well-being of the world (or at least your local area). 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you! I’m very happy…. I must share some graduation photos on here soon.

      I agree with you re: being very specific about what the crowdfunding would go towards. I still have mixed feelings about it, mostly because I feel awkward and uncomfortable about asking family, friends and strangers for money, but maybe I’ll give it a try. I read one example where a girl used crowdfunding to pay for her Masters and her living expenses, but that’s something that I would definitely not do! I signed up to do a full-time Masters and applied for a research grant, but as I didn’t get that, I switched to part-time and I’m going to be working as well.

      To be honest, I think things often work out for the best, even if it doesn’t look like that at first glance. I’m actually very excited about working in the ‘real’ world — I’ve found a great business to work for and I enjoy it there. 🙂

      Thanks for your lovely comment. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Pingback: Looking back at 2015 | Cultural Life

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