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    Thanks for all your help.
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    My Dad graduated from Cambridge and he's always said that no employer has ever asked him what College he went to. So start by scratching off any premonitions about your college not being prestigious enough. In my opinion, I would definitely say go. If only because there was probably someone dying for the offer that you've got, I always believe you should grab opportunities with both hands. Same way that parents always say not to waste water/food because there are thirsty/hungry children in the world, you have the offer from Cambridge that others pine so much for!

    It is effing expensive, but your employability factor increases double on account of you having a degree in two different (if slightly overlapping) subjects as well as the Cambridge MPhil. You will most definitely earn it back over the years.

    If you're interested in the course and you think you'd enjoy it then go for it. Also don't underestimate the bragging rights, it's an awesome battle of one upmanship and also means in future your kids won't ever be able to give you s**t about working hard at school haha.
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    There is a big difference between undergraduate and graduate at the most prestigious universities. Sure, as a graduate student, you get the prestige stamp, and that is what they are selling in many cases. My d is at Cam as an undergraduate; in her discipline, Cam offers a one-year master's that is similar to the undergraduate degree, but is disdained as an easier course that costs a lot, like you are buying a Cam degree. Nonetheless, there are other master's programs in her discipline that are more rigorous and lead to a PhD and they are more respected (and often longer).

    My advice is to make the decision based on the substance of the course, i.e. if it is right for you (and you are interested enough in the subject matter to work very hard) and is a serious and substantive degree rather than an expensive credential.
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    24 is not old. Robinson is ...certainly not the prettiest college, but it's a decent location for the uni library and close to the Sidgwick site. The 'postgrad experience' will be whatever you want to make it. None of those are really issues. Your bigger problem to me seems to be your "meh" attitude about the course. My experience is that quite a lot of "lazy bright" people end up at Cam for postgrad, and find they need to work harder than they ever have before just to keep up, basically, much less actually do well. If you are not particularly interested in your course, which you don't seem to be, I don't much see the point tbh.
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    (Original post by imabusyman)
    The negatives: 1) I'm 24 and another year in education might not be the best of ideas 2) masters courses are ****ing expensive; in the region of £20,000 for tuition fees and living 3) I'm not sure how much I would really get out of Cambridge 4) In my mind the course isn't the most prestigious, nor my college, and I have no desire to be an academic, although I am interested in a legal career 5) I'm not sure what the postgraduate vibe at Cambridge is like? I would (pompously) classify myself as being 'lazy bright'. Education is a means to an end for me, and I might not fit in with the serious, searingly smart types around me.
    Firstly congrats on your offer from Cambridge.

    I'm going to answer your questions/negatives in turn:


    1) I'd kill to be 24 again. I was 27 when I started my Master's. I'd have liked to have gone to Cambridge much earlier in my life but for whatever reason it didn't happen. But when it did I took the chance. There are students of a wide variety of ages across the university and especially at the postgrad level.

    2) Did you apply for funding? Are there still opportunities to apply for funding? There might be at the collegiate level.

    3) It's a cliche but university life is really what you make of it and that goes for Cambridge. Some people like me worked hard and tried to get involved in as much activities as possible be it Varsity sport, The Union, various clubs and societies etc, attending talks and so on and so forth. Do as much or as little as you like the Cambridge experience is yours to do with as you please.

    4) From a course point of view if you feel it would not benefit you academically then you have to decide whether or not to proceed with it. As for college choice (although I have been involved in great debate about choosing a "prestigious" college) where you study has absolutely no bearing at all on your career prospects whatsoever and I mean absolutely 0% impact. Sure some colleges are grander than others in the sense they are older, nicer buildings, some might be wealthier so might be generous with offering funding to students etc. But ultimately you're taught by the faculty at graduate level and not at college level. I can't recall the rest of your post but I'm assuming you made an open application? If so then there's always "the risk" you may end up at a college that wasn't necessarily the most popular etc. Even when choosing a popular college the risk there is that with it being oversubscribed you may well be overlooked. BTW if I may add, Robinson isn't so bad, it had the best food of all the formals I attended.

    5) Not sure what you mean by vibe. But of course you're expected to work/study hard, it's graduate level study and at one of the top universities in the country/the world. As for the social scene, it's not party capital like London or Manchester but there is plenty going on be it sports, societies,a handful of bars and clubs, pubs and lots to do from a cultural perspective. Oh formals can be entertaining. There isn't a "Cambridge type". So many different people from all walks of life, private schools, state schools, smart, super smart, geniuses and those who just work very hard but yes being smart is a common theme, different people form all over the world. You were made an offer on academic merit and promise meaning you deserve to be there and hence no need to worry about fitting in.


    If I may add; for me getting into Cambridge was one of the proudest moments of my life and I had no hesitation about accepting the offer. Sure I was slightly nervous before coming but more to do with being good enough to cope with the work and graduate. But I got through it and the experience for me was amazing. So many highlights be it playing sport for the university and at college level, joining so many different societies, formals, going to the union etc. Even small things like cycling past all those beautiful buildings, along the backs, punting etc. I loved every minute of my time at Cambridge even the bad times i.e. when stressed with work. But the experience went by too quickly and I was very sad to leave but proud I managed to graduate and become a Cantab which I am for life.


    Only you can decide whether it's for you. If you feel the course isn't worth the money and won't benefit your legal career then you shouldn't go. I feel having a Cambridge degree on the CV will be of a great benefit to you. Don't expect an easy ride. Of course the work will be hard with it being graduate level but it's more than manageable if you're organised, there are people studying for PhDs spending days in labs etc and still manage to get Blues in Rugby or Rowing. You don't have to be a genius either. Yes there are some incredibly smart people there and those who will go onto win a Nobel prize but then there are normal students. But if you weren't good enough to handle the work you wouldn't have been made an offer.

    Finally would you regret it if you declined it? I certainly would have but declining never figured in my mindset. I'm the sort of person who would have stuck it out even if I wasn't have a fantastic time because ultimately it was for the Cambridge degree. However you need to question why you applied in the first place and I'm guessing because despite the negatives it was because you really wanted to come here and felt you were good enough and you now have an offer. Many people would chop off their right arm just to be in your shoes. But that shouldn't make you feel guilty about possibly declining the offer.

    But don't think you won't fit in. You will.
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    (Original post by alcibiade)
    There is a big difference between undergraduate and graduate at the most prestigious universities. Sure, as a graduate student, you get the prestige stamp, and that is what they are selling in many cases. My d is at Cam as an undergraduate; in her discipline, Cam offers a one-year master's that is similar to the undergraduate degree, but is disdained as an easier course that costs a lot, like you are buying a Cam degree. Nonetheless, there are other master's programs in her discipline that are more rigorous and lead to a PhD and they are more respected (and often longer).

    My advice is to make the decision based on the substance of the course, i.e. if it is right for you (and you are interested enough in the subject matter to work very hard) and is a serious and substantive degree rather than an expensive credential.
    I don't think any Master's course at Camb is viewed as "buyable" but some are naturally more competitive to get onto than others due to popularity e.g the MBA.

    But most of the time if not all of the time, Camb will not give you an offer if you're not a strong candidate or amongst the strongest in that particular field of applicants. Anything less than a high 2:1 at undergraduate level would be viewed as a weak application academically.
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    (Original post by Gridiron-Gangster)
    I don't think any Master's course at Camb is viewed as "buyable" but some are naturally more competitive to get onto than others due to popularity e.g the MBA.

    But most of the time if not all of the time, Camb will not give you an offer if you're not a strong candidate or amongst the strongest in that particular field of applicants. Anything less than a high 2:1 at undergraduate level would be viewed as a weak application academically.
    The view of my d and her peers is that a certain number of graduate offerings are second rate. This does not mean they are "buyable", because they do have standards for admission. Also, their criticism applies only to niche, and not by any means to more than a minority of courses. But, they said, these courses are viewed as less rigorous and as a way to get a Cam stamp at a high price. The same is true for some graduate courses at Oxford and Harvard.
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    (Original post by alcibiade)
    The view of my d and her peers is that a certain number of graduate offerings are second rate. This does not mean they are "buyable", because they do have standards for admission. Also, their criticism applies only to niche, and not by any means to more than a minority of courses. But, they said, these courses are viewed as less rigorous and as a way to get a Cam stamp at a high price. The same is true for some graduate courses at Oxford and Harvard.
    Are they undergraduate students? Postgrads? Fellows?
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    (Original post by Gridiron-Gangster)
    Are they undergraduate students? Postgrads? Fellows?
    They are undergrads.

    I do not mean to overstate the case, but wanted to indicate to the OP that he should look into which program he is in as this may have a bearing on his decision - a second-rate program is less valuable, but does pay for a Cam stamp.

    My d was specifically talking about a mediocre one-year master's degree that was less rigorous than their course and quite costly. Other programs, she said, are much more respected in her dept. As such, the OP should look into the details and reputation of his course.

    This is not meant to disparage all grad students, there are plenty of great programs, I am sure, but not all of them are.
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    (Original post by alcibiade)
    They are undergrads.

    I do not mean to overstate the case, but wanted to indicate to the OP that he should look into which program he is in as this may have a bearing on his decision - a second-rate program is less valuable, but does pay for a Cam stamp.

    My d was specifically talking about a mediocre one-year master's degree that was less rigorous than their course and quite costly. Other programs, she said, are much more respected in her dept. As such, the OP should look into the details and reputation of his course.

    This is not meant to disparage all grad students, there are plenty of great programs, I am sure, but not all of them are.
    With the greatest of respect to your "d" and her friends, I'm not quite sure how the opinions of undergraduate students i.e. those who have yet to complete the Cambridge degree system etc. are somewhat authoritative on the matter.
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    ^ I know some Ice spells. I could apply them to the burns.
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    (Original post by Gridiron-Gangster)
    With the greatest of respect to your "d" and her friends, I'm not quite sure how the opinions of undergraduate students i.e. those who have yet to complete the Cambridge degree system etc. are somewhat authoritative on the matter.
    They are in the dept and know the programs, hence were discussing the quality of the various master's degrees as they ponder their next steps. There are general master's, research master's and several others. One of them was less respected than the others and seen as a "bought" degree that "no one serious" would want.

    I am only trying to help the ambivalent OP with info, not disparage your experience.
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    (Original post by alcibiade)
    They are in the dept and know the programs, hence were discussing the quality of the various master's degrees as they ponder their next steps. There are general master's, research master's and several others. One of them was less respected than the others and seen as a "bought" degree that "no one serious" would want.

    I am only trying to help the ambivalent OP with info, not disparage your experience.
    If these were the words that came out of the mouth of academics/teaching staff at the university (I'd be surprised if they said any of that) then I would give your statements some credibility. Otherwise it appears you are forming a rather gross generalisation based on the opinions of undergraduate students who have yet to complete their studies or had any experience of postgraduate study.

    What would "help" the OP is for the OP to decide whether or not the actual course content is relevant to his future career i.e. will he be taught material that is of any use to him rather than forming some sort of generalisation about whether the degree is simply a buyable Cambridge diploma.
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    "On the other hand, maybe this is a chance of a lifetime which I might regret not taking 30 years down the line?"

    Come on, the only way that could possibly be true is if you do absolutely nothing relevant in 30 years. This has to do with you and you only, and a degree could never change that.

    The best thing anyone can get from Cambridge is neither the education nor the prestige, but something altogether more valuable and elusive: confidence.

    As you say, your reaction to the offer was "meh", and that would reflect on your experience that follows potentially going through with it. If you want a legal career, that master's doesn't seem to have much to do with it (wouldn't you be supposed to take a specific legal course or something before going into law?).

    Certainly don't feel pressured into it just because others would want it. Rule number one: don't live for others. Also, the analogy with not wasting food or water is flawed. Any water and food we save cannot possibly end up to hungry and thirsty people. We live in a closed circle and so do they, there's no exchange between our resources.

    You should be excited about doing something. If you genuinely thought this could change the rest of your life, you would be elated. You would have never in a million years made a thread on TSR asking people to persuade you to do it (or not). So this speaks for itself dear chap.

    All the best to you!
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    (Original post by Gridiron-Gangster)
    If these were the words that came out of the mouth of academics/teaching staff at the university (I'd be surprised if they said any of that) then I would give your statements some credibility. Otherwise it appears you are forming a rather gross generalisation based on the opinions of undergraduate students who have yet to complete their studies or had any experience of postgraduate study.

    What would "help" the OP is for the OP to decide whether or not the actual course content is relevant to his future career i.e. will he be taught material that is of any use to him rather than forming some sort of generalisation about whether the degree is simply a buyable Cambridge diploma.
    I don't understand why you are so defensive. The quality of graduate degrees varies. Do you not know this? I wonder how much experience you have in academics. You sound naive.

    I went to Harvard and it was well known that certain schools in it offered degrees that were not worth much for what appeared to be cynical reasons of revenue in exchange for a Harvard diploma. I am sure it is the same for some Cam grad degrees, but of course not all. I know students who went to Oxford and left feeling ripped off. This kind of thing should be a factor for the ambivalent OP to consider, but I don't know what he is doing, etc.
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    (Original post by alcibiade)
    I don't understand why you are so defensive. The quality of graduate degrees varies. Do you not know this? I wonder how much experience you have in academics. You sound naive.

    I went to Harvard and it was well known that certain schools in it offered degrees that were not worth much for what appeared to be cynical reasons of revenue in exchange for a Harvard diploma. I am sure it is the same for some Cam grad degrees, but of course not all. This kind of thing should be a factor for the ambivalent OP to consider, but I don't know what he is doing, etc.
    It's not about being defensive more that it would be beneficial for the OP to hear from students who have done/doing postgraduate study at Cambridge rather than someone forming a generalisation from the opinions of his daughter and her friends. Given that I have been through the postgraduate study system at Cambridge I am in a slightly better position than you are to give a more accurate judgement/opinion on postgraduate study at Cambridge.

    I can't comment on the practices of Harvard but it would be 'naive' of you to think that such a practice would be adopt other institutions.

    If we're talking about prestige that can be very subjective. Certainly some degree programmes are viewed as more competitive to get into than others like for example the MBA at JBS or HBS. That doesn't make other Master's degrees any less credible or relevant. Relevance is very much down to the student's interests and future career ambitions. Hence if they wanted to be a writer then the MSt in Creative Writing is probably going to be a whole lot more relevant than say the MPhil in Land Economy.

    That's not to say the academic standards for admission would be significantly less in one programme than another. I doubt there are many is any students admitted to postgraduate study at Cambridge with less than 2:1 in their first degree and even then a high 2:1. No admissions tutor would lower the requirements or accept an underqualified student onto their respective programme.

    You perhaps are trying to compare the process with say the Harvard Extension School which you would be right in saying is nowhere near as competitive or academically demanding as a degree programme at the HBS. However there are still admissions requirements to meet and you need to pass pre-requisite courses to a high standard to proceed/graduate and it's still (in some respects) a Harvard qualification but perhaps serves a particular purpose (i.e. for those who for whatever reason can't undertake full-time study etc.).

    There are no qualifications at Cambridge which can be simply "bought". Courses at the ICE can be done by anyone but those don't usually act as a route to entry onto a Master's course.

    Anyways we are going to have to agree to disagree as we are both going around in circles here.

    My advice to the OP would be to make a decision based on whether or not they feel the course will provide them with the knowledge and/or skills to proceed further in their career and perhaps more importantly, that they feel they will be able to motivate themselves to study and complete the course. Furthermore they shouldn't be put off about concerns about "not fitting in" as there are so many students from so many different backgrounds that it would be impossible not to fit in.
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    The argument above is interesting and both points of view have merit - but I'd put forward an alternative view.

    It's not so much about the relative ranking of degrees within one university, rather that if there is a degree you want to do, then the more important factor is the ranking of that degree at different universities.

    If the OP feels that a MPhil in Criminology is the best thing for him to do, then he should be comparing the relative merits of that degree at different universities - and it might well be that Cambridge's version is the best choice.

    If on the other hand OP just wants to do a degree at Cambridge, that's when the quality of graduate degrees within the university comes into play and it might be worth reconsidering (I have no idea of the perceived ranking of Criminology before anyone asks).

    Either way, my advice would be to only enter into the commitment of a university course (any course, any university) if you really want to do it and I'm not really seeing that dedication here.
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    (Original post by Jantaculum)
    The argument above is interesting and both points of view have merit - but I'd put forward an alternative view.

    It's not so much about the relative ranking of degrees within one university, rather that if there is a degree you want to do, then the more important factor is the ranking of that degree at different universities.

    If the OP feels that a MPhil in Criminology is the best thing for him to do, then he should be comparing the relative merits of that degree at different universities - and it might well be that Cambridge's version is the best choice.

    If on the other hand OP just wants to do a degree at Cambridge, that's when the quality of graduate degrees within the university comes into play and it might be worth reconsidering (I have no idea of the perceived ranking of Criminology before anyone asks).

    Either way, my advice would be to only enter into the commitment of a university course (any course, any university) if you really want to do it and I'm not really seeing that dedication here.
    This point I agree with.

    You can't say a course isn't worth studying because it is considered less prestigious than others at that university. If that particular course is relevant to your field of study/interests then that's all that matters. That's like comparing say Medicine at Keele with I don't know, Media Studies at the same university. People have their own misconceptions and generalisations of which might be the more prestigious course out of the two but if you wanted to work in the media which degree would be of greater relevance, and vice-versa if you wanted to be a doctor?

    I would also point out that rankings should only ever be taken with a pinch of salt and do not necessarily or accurately reflect which university is best for that particular course, given that rankings often fluctuate.

    The best way to judge if that course is the best one for you is firstly to look at the course content, does it cover the material you want and need to learn to get further in your career? Secondly and perhaps crucially at the postgraduate level, the quality and reputation of the members of faculty teaching you on the course, especially if you want to go onto PhD studies etc. Thirdly, is it an environment you would enjoy spending a year or two (depending on the length of the programme) at and subsequently graduating with a good result? Fourth, can you afford the time and the fees, especially if you've not acquired funding?

    Those factors are far more important in the decision making process than whether or not the course is viewed as 'prestigious'.
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    (Original post by Gridiron-Gangster)
    It's not about being defensive more that it would be beneficial for the OP to hear from students who have done/doing postgraduate study at Cambridge rather than someone forming a generalisation from the opinions of his daughter and her friends.
    No, you are naive and defensive.

    I have spent the good part of my career associated with universities, and your willful ignorance is misplaced idealism. They are businesses and act accordingly. The OP should take this into account as he makes his cost-benefit assessment. It boils down to: is it worth it and what do you want? I am not saying that all grad programs are so, far from it, but it is a question the OP should ask. If you don't think he should, you have no place to give him advice.
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    (Original post by alcibiade)
    No, you are naive and defensive.

    I have spent the good part of my career associated with universities, and your willful ignorance is misplaced idealism. They are businesses and act accordingly. The OP should take this into account as he makes his cost-benefit assessment. It boils down to: is it worth it and what do you want? I am not saying that all grad programs are so, far from it, but it is a question the OP should ask. If you don't think he should, you have no place to give him advice.
    As opposed to being an arrogant, pompous git spouting totally inaccurate generalisations about a university you know absolutely nothing about except through the misguided, ignorant views of your teenage daughter and her friends? You have some nerve to call me ignorant.

    There is nothing idealistic about my comments. You claim to have spent time associated with universities but not Cambridge. You base your opinions based on your own misconceptions and arrogance.

    I am in more of position to give advice than you are having studied at the university as a postgrad.

    If you wish to continue this conversation feel free to PM me otherwise please stop replying to my comments with your inane and totally inaccurate information.
 
 
 
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