Had enough of my masters degree but can't quit

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paperweight11
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A few years ago I graduated with a first class degree and went down the usual route of applying for graduate schemes, regular jobs etc. Didn't really get anywhere with that. A few times I was rejected at the final stage and to be honest, there were many who were more polished then me but I could also have done the jobs if I was given a chance. Long standing mental health issues also played their part and I lost all my confidence.

I liked the idea of doing postgraduate study in order to re-train but I was put off by the fees. In fact I couldn't afford the vast majority of courses. I got offered a fully funded masters in nuclear science /engineering and have been doing that since September 2017. This past year has been probably the worst year of my life and I regret ever starting it because of the workload and because I received exactly zero help from the admin or tutors. When I say they don't help I really mean it. I have self-taught this masters from scratch. In fact, random people in Europe or America who i contacted through physics forums have done more than the university staff and it has pushed me to my limit. I didn't even get to see the summer. I want to walk away but have come too far now and I need the scholarship. To rub salt into the wound I received unfair marks on one module which will scupper my chance of a distinction. The admin have been totally unhelpful about it.

I've finished everything now apart from the project but I have had enough and can't imagine another 3 months of this. I have a choice between a lab project and a computational one. I couldn't get the software to install and the admin have basically held their hands up and said "can't help ya". So again I am contacting random people and tutors to get help because the staff are lazy and incompetent (this is at a Russel Group btw). The lab project may be easier, but the thought of spending 3 months in a lab makes me feel utterly depressed and I need to be out earning a wage and getting experience. I am in my late 20s now and I feel like I am wasting my life on this course.

Has anyone else had such an awful experience of postgrad study? At this point I am staying for the money and don't even care about my grades as much anymore, since apparently no one even cares about them at masters level.
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alleycat393
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(Original post by paperweight11)
A few years ago I graduated with a first class degree and went down the usual route of applying for graduate schemes, regular jobs etc. Didn't really get anywhere with that. A few times I was rejected at the final stage and to be honest, there were many who were more polished then me but I could also have done the jobs if I was given a chance. Long standing mental health issues also played their part and I lost all my confidence.

I liked the idea of doing postgraduate study in order to re-train but I was put off by the fees. In fact I couldn't afford the vast majority of courses. I got offered a fully funded masters in nuclear science /engineering and have been doing that since September 2017. This past year has been probably the worst year of my life and I regret ever starting it because of the workload and because I received exactly zero help from the admin or tutors. When I say they don't help I really mean it. I have self-taught this masters from scratch. In fact, random people in Europe or America who i contacted through physics forums have done more than the university staff and it has pushed me to my limit. I didn't even get to see the summer. I want to walk away but have come too far now and I need the scholarship. To rub salt into the wound I received unfair marks on one module which will scupper my chance of a distinction. The admin have been totally unhelpful about it.

I've finished everything now apart from the project but I have had enough and can't imagine another 3 months of this. I have a choice between a lab project and a computational one. I couldn't get the software to install and the admin have basically held their hands up and said "can't help ya". So again I am contacting random people and tutors to get help because the staff are lazy and incompetent (this is at a Russel Group btw). The lab project may be easier, but the thought of spending 3 months in a lab makes me feel utterly depressed and I need to be out earning a wage and getting experience. I am in my late 20s now and I feel like I am wasting my life on this course.

Has anyone else had such an awful experience of postgrad study? At this point I am staying for the money and don't even care about my grades as much anymore, since apparently no one even cares about them at masters level.
I'm sorry that you've had such a bad experience but there seems to be more to this than meets the eye. As a masters student you cannot expect to see the summer for a start so it sounds like maybe you came into this with unrealistic expectations? What was your first degree in? Were you actually interested in engineering and nuclear science? What sort of help have you been asking for, from whom and what sorts of responses have you been getting? It seems odd to need a software but no one can help you. How are others managing?
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ChanandlerB
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Hey, I’m also having my postgrad here and the convenors here even said it out right that we are master students so we have to self taught ourselves and they are not gonna teach us. I am from Hong Kong I’m self financed. I was too stressful I cried every night coz no matter how hard i tried i just don’t understand the theories ( I studied linguistics in my undergrad and now taking a politics master). I did do some research before applying to this program but it didn’t mention that it’s mainly philosophy with only a little bit of politics. And I don’t have lectures as well. We only got seminars. I was way too stressful from the readings to the financial stuff you know I paid like more than 30k pounds to study here but the reality is totally different from my imagination. I got a depression history and I started to think about jumping off the window so that I can escape from all these pressure. Finally I talked to my program director and he said he can offer me some help like meeting with him once a week. However somehow this just make me more stressful. I finally made a decision today which is to withdraw from the study. I don’t want to be a complete self learner and that’s definitely not the point for me to spend such a huge amount of money to fly all the way from hk to here. The sliver lining here is that I can get part of my tuition fee refunded but still it is such a shame that I’m unable to complete my study and get a degree here coz studying abroad was always a dream for me. But I guess there’s not point to stick into it if I’m not interested anymore and if I keep feeling that I don’t belong here. I just don’t want to waste my time. I know that my case is not like yours but all I wanted to say is that if you’ve already tried your very best but things still didn’t get better, then leave. Don’t waste your time...
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Salll93
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Sorry you are having a tough time and really hope you can stick it out - you are not the only person to have bad experiences.

I am currently 2 months into my MRes at a Russel Group Uni and the staff have been truly awful. Undegraduate and postgraduate are completely different and I expected tutors/lecturers to be supportive and helpful (after all surely they want the best grades to publish).

I am not enjoying my course whatsover - heartbroken because initally I was so happy to graduate with first class honours and to be accepted, over the summer I was so excited. I am reluctantly sticking it out as it is 'only a year', but a year is a long time when you are miserable. I have cried so much in such a short space of time, also moving 180 miles away from home too so the addition of homesickness it has been a nightmare. I am now querying whether I should have stayed close at home at a non-russell group uni as the only reason I moved was to increase career prospects but so far my experience has been dreadful.

In the two months I have been on this course:
Lecturers and programme leaders have been down right rude and unprofessional in person and via email to the point meetings have been organised to sort issues between staff members and students.

Timetables have not been planned correctly (arriving at lectures with no lecturer) to be told to 'just leave' by admin staff only to get an email 45 mins later saying the lecturer is there now and telling us we have to go back!

I met with my personal tutor who has been assigned to me, university stated a meeting must be done within the first two weeks... I wasnt informed of my personal tutor until a month in. The meeting was pointless, I wasnt even on the system so he couldnt even record the meeting (which he hasnt updated but said he would, as it is monitored). He couldnt even come up with questions to ask me to get to know me (where did i do undergrad, career aspirations, any personal issues, how you finding the course - evidently would have been a great starting point). Clearly had no interest in being supportive and even said 'dont feel like you have to see me'... the meeting lasted under 10 mins whereas other classmates meetings were 45 minutes and their feedback was great! I guess I pulled the short straw.

Assignments are given out with no or very little assignment brief to the point we dont know what referencing they want us to use or even basic things like word count limit! I just recieved an email stating an assignment due date is a week earlier than originally planned and shown on the module info. Another piece of coursework I was only given 4 days to do as I swapped a module which is firm but fair as it is personal choice HOWEVER I could of had a week to do it but the module leader refused to email me the coursework until she had admin confirmation I had swapped modules - despite them emailing her directly saying I had swapped modules just the system would take a few days to update! After finally sending me it, she didnt send any other supportive information regarding the coursework which was given to the other students - I had to guess what to do for my first graded piece of postgrad work.

The only thing keeping me going is knowing after January exams I have no more lectures or exams as I will be starting my research project (which lasts 6 months). Then again, I will dread it if I get assigned a project my heart isnt set on and the supervisor is as unhelpful as the other members of staff I have met.

Long story short - regret my decision to do a masters, wish I applied for graduate schemes instead and counting down the days until the course is over!
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OxFossil
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(Original post by Salll93)
Sorry you are having a tough time and really hope you can stick it out - you are not the only person to have bad experiences.

I am currently 2 months into my MRes at a Russel Group Uni and the staff have been truly awful. Undegraduate and postgraduate are completely different and I expected tutors/lecturers to be supportive and helpful (after all surely they want the best grades to publish).

I am not enjoying my course whatsover - heartbroken because initally I was so happy to graduate with first class honours and to be accepted, over the summer I was so excited. I am reluctantly sticking it out as it is 'only a year', but a year is a long time when you are miserable. I have cried so much in such a short space of time, also moving 180 miles away from home too so the addition of homesickness it has been a nightmare. I am now querying whether I should have stayed close at home at a non-russell group uni as the only reason I moved was to increase career prospects but so far my experience has been dreadful.

In the two months I have been on this course:
Lecturers and programme leaders have been down right rude and unprofessional in person and via email to the point meetings have been organised to sort issues between staff members and students.

Timetables have not been planned correctly (arriving at lectures with no lecturer) to be told to 'just leave' by admin staff only to get an email 45 mins later saying the lecturer is there now and telling us we have to go back!

I met with my personal tutor who has been assigned to me, university stated a meeting must be done within the first two weeks... I wasnt informed of my personal tutor until a month in. The meeting was pointless, I wasnt even on the system so he couldnt even record the meeting (which he hasnt updated but said he would, as it is monitored). He couldnt even come up with questions to ask me to get to know me (where did i do undergrad, career aspirations, any personal issues, how you finding the course - evidently would have been a great starting point). Clearly had no interest in being supportive and even said 'dont feel like you have to see me'... the meeting lasted under 10 mins whereas other classmates meetings were 45 minutes and their feedback was great! I guess I pulled the short straw.

Assignments are given out with no or very little assignment brief to the point we dont know what referencing they want us to use or even basic things like word count limit! I just recieved an email stating an assignment due date is a week earlier than originally planned and shown on the module info. Another piece of coursework I was only given 4 days to do as I swapped a module which is firm but fair as it is personal choice HOWEVER I could of had a week to do it but the module leader refused to email me the coursework until she had admin confirmation I had swapped modules - despite them emailing her directly saying I had swapped modules just the system would take a few days to update! After finally sending me it, she didnt send any other supportive information regarding the coursework which was given to the other students - I had to guess what to do for my first graded piece of postgrad work.

The only thing keeping me going is knowing after January exams I have no more lectures or exams as I will be starting my research project (which lasts 6 months). Then again, I will dread it if I get assigned a project my heart isnt set on and the supervisor is as unhelpful as the other members of staff I have met.

Long story short - regret my decision to do a masters, wish I applied for graduate schemes instead and counting down the days until the course is over!
Sorry to hear you've been having such a grim time of it. I've been on both sides of the fence - as a Masters student, and later as a postgraduate lecturer at RG unis. Some thoughts:
- in general, it is much harder to make social connections as a PG than as a UG. These relationships are often what get us through the tough times, so I would do all you can to find friendships - or at least study buddies - who may help.
- as the OP found, it is horribly difficult to find a decent graduate scheme straight from graduation, so maybe you can console yourself with the thought that you are doing the best thing for the longer term
- put time and effort into making professional connections. Do lots of networking, find out the people who are most closely connected to job opportunities (if that's what you want) or the social networks that are where you see your future life
- don't be afraid to ask lecturers or post doctorates with teaching responsibilities if they could arrange personal tutorials or discussion groups. Even if most say no, one or two may come up trumps. In my Dept, I was so horrified at the poor quality of teaching offered to PG students that I set up a weekly reading group. It didn't require a lot of effort on my part - I just had to arrange the venue, suggested a couple of readings, and sit in as a kind of moderator. A decent lecturer should do that if asked, imho
- networking may also help you wangle a favourable angle on your research project. I guess it depends on your subject, but you shouldn't be forced into a topic that doesn't interest you, particularly as this is the bit that you will most likely provide you with the "experience" that will help you find a job later on
- you've probably realised all this already, and I appreciate it is easier said than done. Good luck, anyway

EDIT: on the practical point of assignment criteria - surely there is a course handbook that describes this? The department will have had to write up a document describing assessments in some detail in order to get course approval, so this stuff must exist somewhere!
Last edited by OxFossil; 2 years ago
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Salll93
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(Original post by OxFossil)
Sorry to hear you've been having such a grim time of it. I've been on both sides of the fence - as a Masters student, and later as a postgraduate lecturer at RG unis. Some thoughts:
- in general, it is much harder to make social connections as a PG than as a UG. These relationships are often what get us through the tough times, so I would do all you can to find friendships - or at least study buddies - who may help.
- as the OP found, it is horribly difficult to find a decent graduate scheme straight from graduation, so maybe you can console yourself with the thought that you are doing the best thing for the longer term
- put time and effort into making professional connections. Do lots of networking, find out the people who are most closely connected to job opportunities (if that's what you want) or the social networks that are where you see your future life
- don't be afraid to ask lecturers or post doctorates with teaching responsibilities if they could arrange personal tutorials or discussion groups. Even if most say no, one or two may come up trumps. In my Dept, I was so horrified at the poor quality of teaching offered to PG students that I set up a weekly reading group. It didn't require a lot of effort on my part - I just had to arrange the venue, suggested a couple of readings, and sit in as a kind of moderator. A decent lecturer should do that if asked, imho
- networking may also help you wangle a favourable angle on your research project. I guess it depends on your subject, but you shouldn't be forced into a topic that doesn't interest you, particularly as this is the bit that you will most likely provide you with the "experience" that will help you find a job later on
- you've probably realised all this already, and I appreciate it is easier said than done. Good luck, anyway

EDIT: on the practical point of assignment criteria - surely there is a course handbook that describes this? The department will have had to write up a document describing assessments in some detail in order to get course approval, so this stuff must exist somewhere!
Thank you so much for your reply.

It has been incredibly hard to form friendships, the majority of my course are now living at home and commuting unlike undergrad where the majority are living away from home - so many arent interested in forming friendships.

The project side - we are given a list (at some point, they havent informed us of the date) and rank the top 3 we are interested in. What they havent disclosed is how they choose between people who are interested in the same project.

In regards to the assignment - the lecturer shows very briefly and quickly powerpoint slides with incredibly vague info about it, to the point people are getting their phones out to take photos of the slides to capture the information (which she shouts at students not to do) - she does not upload this information online so if you arent in lecture and dont write it down fast enough you dont get the information. Staff response to this is that the lecturer is not obliged to upload supplementary material when it is clearly essential information. Emails are ignored and refuses to explain things thoroughly - she and the programme leader have clear issues so nothing is resolved. The programme leader also says he will email and do things... this never happens. Im still waiting on an email from 4 weeks ago, I instead contacted another team member to resolve my issue. A classmate has been 2 weeks for an email...

The lack of support and communication has been by far the worst.

I'll stick it out as I dont want to waste time or money - just praying my project is something I love so it will motivate me to get out of bed in the morning!
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OxFossil
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(Original post by Salll93)
Thank you so much for your reply.

It has been incredibly hard to form friendships, the majority of my course are now living at home and commuting unlike undergrad where the majority are living away from home - so many arent interested in forming friendships.

The project side - we are given a list (at some point, they havent informed us of the date) and rank the top 3 we are interested in. What they havent disclosed is how they choose between people who are interested in the same project.

In regards to the assignment - the lecturer shows very briefly and quickly powerpoint slides with incredibly vague info about it, to the point people are getting their phones out to take photos of the slides to capture the information (which she shouts at students not to do) - she does not upload this information online so if you arent in lecture and dont write it down fast enough you dont get the information. Staff response to this is that the lecturer is not obliged to upload supplementary material when it is clearly essential information. Emails are ignored and refuses to explain things thoroughly - she and the programme leader have clear issues so nothing is resolved. The programme leader also says he will email and do things... this never happens. Im still waiting on an email from 4 weeks ago, I instead contacted another team member to resolve my issue. A classmate has been 2 weeks for an email...

The lack of support and communication has been by far the worst.

I'll stick it out as I dont want to waste time or money - just praying my project is something I love so it will motivate me to get out of bed in the morning!
The friendship issue is pretty universal for PGs I think. You get the disadvantage of being away from home networks without the benefit of being in a big peer group of others whop are also trying to make new friends. What can I say? It's all the stuff you already know about going to clubs and societies, gyms/sports groups, setting up a reading group, socialising with the people in your shared flat/house/whatever and so on.

The dismal communication issue between the course staff and students is inexcusable, particularly over assignment criteria. Is it something you can raise as an urgent concern with your student course rep, or even NUS officer? A simple and specific demand like "We want a hard copy of all the assignment criteria [or the course handbook?] before the end of the month" may be easier for them to respond to than a vaguer or more general complaint about "poor communication"?

As far as the project goes, I always think that its worth twisting it to match your needs as much as possible.

Sorry I can't be very helpful, but the time will go in a flash, don't worry!
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HallieMarie
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(Original post by paperweight11)
A few years ago I graduated with a first class degree and went down the usual route of applying for graduate schemes, regular jobs etc. Didn't really get anywhere with that. A few times I was rejected at the final stage and to be honest, there were many who were more polished then me but I could also have done the jobs if I was given a chance. Long standing mental health issues also played their part and I lost all my confidence.
I feel like I wrote this. This first paragraph is me. The only difference is I got a 2:1 and tried and tried to get some school experience (hoping to apply for a PGCE) and 6 years later, I'm still asking. I was lied to for years by schools and education places (for a dbs, for voluntary work). I joined universal credit for around 8 months who proceeded to call me a liar, until they tried to contact schools and had the same issues. I was also applying for jobs and graduate schemes (these for the first two years after graduating) however, didn't get anywhere. Fast track 3 years of bad mental health, I decided to apply for my masters. I applied because I thought, oh that would be great because I plan to teach the subject anyway. The funding was finally there and I felt so lost because I still wasn't getting anywhere in life that I applied and got in. It has been the worst time of my life. Reading your post, I felt all of it. It makes me feel a little bit better (even though this post is a year old) that there are actually other people going through this.


We aren't given any help whatsoever. Well, I say that. For one of our modules, the tutor was actually quite helpful. We still have her for this module we are currently doing though and it's confusing as hell. Also, she takes around 9 days to reply to an email. It's the other two modules that are the issue. From September to December I started to catch on that these people just aren't doing their jobs. Baring in mind I did my undergrad at the same uni so I know what help they can provide, they just aren't. I'm unsure if it's because they are different tutors but the effort is non existent (bar the one tutor). We constantly have to rely on messages being passed through the group chat in order to know what we need to do. Saying that, for first module, we were each told different things. Two people were told to include things and were then penalised for including them. The goal of the assessment constantly changed so no-one knew what was going on. At this point, I was really miffed. However, my course mates stated that "this was a masters" … as if that explains everything. I have three friends who have experience with masters and each of them had a hell of a lot more support than we are getting. Both had lots of help and guidance with the assessments. For one of my modules, we weren't even given a marking criteria. It appeared on moodle just over a month after the essay was handed in. We all got bad marks for it, including the ones who got a 1st at uni (and had come straight from undergrad onto the course). 2 weeks before the essay was due in, we raised these concerns with a tutor who laughed and told us to pick a question and answer it. It's other things too like being told I had to present, either through a phone call, recording a video, or in person, a presentation that I wasn't being marked on despite the fact that I was in another country. I'd like to point out that 3 people who didn't turn up to do it were not told the same things I was. There's a lot more **** that I've kind of blanked out because it frustrates the living **** out of me.

We've worked it out that information from above isn't been passed down to us and communication is being lost some part of the way. However, I'm really struggling. I cry and want to quit with every single assessment. I feel ****ty about myself. But I can't quit because of the money side of things as I want to apply for a pgce. Which, to get experience, I am having to move countries to do. Which isn't so bad, people go to different countries for uni. But to move to gain voluntary experience in a classroom, its ridiculous. I don't even need this masters and just want to work and earn money. However, I tried for years and for some reason, I can't get anywhere.

"I am in my late 20s now and I feel like I am wasting my life on this course." - I am in exactly the same boat and I'm sorry you had to go through that because it's ****.

"At this point I am staying for the money and don't even care about my grades as much anymore, since apparently no one even cares about them at masters level." I'm exactly the same. I just want to pass everything at this point. I just don't care and need it over with.
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