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When do I need to start thinking about postgraduate courses?

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    I'm (hopefully ) starting BA Modern Languages at Exeter in September. I know it's v early but according to their prospectus, students start to look at post-grad things during the first year - i.e. employment, postgraduate degrees etc.

    I'm just wondering how much thought I ought to give this. As I didn't get into Cambridge for my BA I'd like to try again at either/both Oxbridge unis for a postgraduate course, so I am also wondering if there is any special prep for this.

    Thank you :piggy:
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    Most people I know didn't really start thinking about postgraduate courses until well into their second year at the earliest, with some of the early birds doing a bit of prep over the summer between second and third year (technically third and fourth year for us, as ours was a four-year degree, but you get the drift!).

    As regards Oxford and Cambridge, I don't think there are any special preparations needed, apart from doing as well as you possibly can in your degree. One thing to possibly bear in mind is that Oxford usually require three academic references, compared to two for most unis, so perhaps think about who you might like to write the third one at some stage; most people will be ok for two good references, but a third *might* be problematic for some.

    Also, and don't take this the wrong way, but I think you're looking at postgraduate study with the wrong attitude, especially with regard to Oxbridge. You don't know where your academic interests will lie at the end of your degree, and Oxbridge might not offer a course that really suits you; that it has to be either Oxford or Cambridge just because you didn't get an undergraduate offer is not the best way to look at postgraduate study. The best course for your specific interests could be anywhere.
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    Good question.

    I've just finished my first year and have been looking at PG throughout. This tact has pros and cons. The pro is I know what I don't want to do, but it also gets rather confusing as you'll study something and it'll really catch your imagination, and ultimately if you have your heart set on a particular topic/course and don't achieve it it can be crushing, I imagine.

    Although it's worth keeping an eye on, and always searching for things you might want to do, I don't think it's so worth it looking at particular topics. You may find you love a topic but are not particularly good at it to the point you can take it further and interests change over 3 years.
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    As above i have just finished first year and have been thinking about my Masters throughout (just started thinking of a potential PHD). I know that i want to do one of four subjects (Economics/Politics/Political Economy/Public Policy) however just to illustrate above when i applied for university i was very much in favor of the economic/financial route however as the year has progressed i moved away from that and towards a political route.
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    (Original post by Rakas21)
    As above i have just finished first year and have been thinking about my Masters throughout (just started thinking of a potential PHD). I know that i want to do one of four subjects (Economics/Politics/Political Economy/Public Policy) however just to illustrate above when i applied for university i was very much in favor of the economic/financial route however as the year has progressed i moved away from that and towards a political route.
    Just to reinforce Rakas, I have had a very similar experience. I have chopped and changed between political philosophy, history and public policy in the last year (I'm currently somewhere around public policy ethics) and have also thought of potential PhD topics.

    The chances are I won't even do a PhD as I'll require full funding or at least fees-paid.

    So the best thing you can take from at least us two is that it's worth thinking about, just don't get stressed when your ideas change. I mean, I know very few PhD students whose thesis title on proposal resembles the final product anyway.
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    Thank you for taking the time to reply it is much appreciated.

    I think, as you advise, I will try to start my degree with an open mind regarding all of the new topics that we'll no doubt cover.

    Re: the Oxbridge thing, I'm not looking solely at those two universities, it was just that I wanted to know if there was anything in particular that they may require which other universities don't. I know it's daft but I'm not really over the Cambridge rejection yet. :\

    Anyway, thank you very much for all of your help and taking the time to write about your experiences
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    After your degree you should think about your PG courses.It is your future plan.Think and choose right option.Otherwise you will struggle yourself
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    I didn't start thinking about postgraduate courses until I was in my third year. Over the course of the three years my aspirations changed. When I first started I had no intention of doing a postgraduate course afterwards. However as I began to do better than I expected, my knowledge of the field widened and through encouragement from my tutors, I began to come round to the idea that I would do postgraduate study, which I did. I suppose I started applying around Easter time of my final year.

    This was posted from The Student Room's Android App on my GT-N7000
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    (Original post by cornish-chough)
    I'm (hopefully ) starting BA Modern Languages at Exeter in September. I know it's v early but according to their prospectus, students start to look at post-grad things during the first year - i.e. employment, postgraduate degrees etc.
    Most people won't probably think about graduate school before their senior year or after graduation, but for top students at the top institutions, graduate school is really the culmination of a brilliant education, sometimes back from elementary school.

    Now in practical terms, what happened before college is irrelevant, and your first concern should be consistently scoring high grades in all of your courses. Graduate in the top 5% of your class, talk to your professors so that they know you, and your are pretty much guaranteed a spot in a strong master's program.

    Make sure you don't graduate with too much debt. Especially for master's, you will most likely have to self-fund at least part of the cost of the degree.
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    You don't necessarily need to be thinking about specific courses, as your interests are likely to change through your degree.

    Concentrate on strong extra curriculars, voluntary work and work experience, which will serve you well in both the application processes, and the world of work should you choose not to continue with education.
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    I started thinking about postgraduate courses before I started my undergraduate degree, why start a degree if you don't know the options that are open to you when you complete it? It's never too early.
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    I only realised I wanted to become an academic in my second year of university, so it was then that I *really* started to consider what I might do for postgraduate study. I was torn between Shakespeare studies and modern theatre up until I completed a research internship between my third and fourth years of study (though I know someone in second year who has just fallen head over heels in love with eighteenth century studies, so there's no guarantee as to when you'll settle on something). It really is never too early. Besides, it's good to do the research at an early stage -- but all the same, your degree is three-four years, and you never know what might take your fancy at some point.
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    Thank you for all of these replies, it's reassuring to know that people started looking at different stages and that everybody had/has different experiences.

    (Original post by Ghost6)
    Now in practical terms, what happened before college is irrelevant, and your first concern should be consistently scoring high grades in all of your courses. Graduate in the top 5% of your class, talk to your professors so that they know you, and your are pretty much guaranteed a spot in a strong master's program.

    Make sure you don't graduate with too much debt. Especially for master's, you will most likely have to self-fund at least part of the cost of the degree.
    And thanks for the practical advice, this really helps to give me something a bit more specific to aim for.
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    I dud a 4 year degree and starting applying for PhDs in the October/November of my final year. This was perhaps a little too early but it gave me time to do the applications thoroughly, without too much distraction at Uni. I also polished up my CV etc over the summer. People who applied around Feb/March in my field usually ended up without a place I think it's worth thinking about what you might want to go in to maybe the summer before you graduate. That's plenty of time!

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