Defer or Part-Time as Postgrad? Which do I pick?

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Aiteach4
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I’m a full-time postgraduate student from Northern Ireland studying in England from last September, due to finish this September. I’ve received the max loan from SFNI (£5,500), have successfully applied for DSA, and I’m supporting myself with savings from my last job.

I’m doing what I thought would be a dream course at a good university, and I'm genuinely enjoying being back in a scholarly environment exploring a topic I love. That said, the workload and learning curve are far steeper than I anticipated. I know Master’s level is no picnic, but my God, I didn’t expect this. I got a high first in my first assignment, and that buoyed my confidence for the year ahead, but I spent most of Christmas and this month putting together a 4,000+ word essay; now I’m cramming as much as I can to answer a 5,000 word one in less than a fortnight. I feel so mentally drained at this stage that I don’t think I’m going to meet even half that one’s word count. I’m pragmatic enough to know I should submit something rather than nothing, yet I’m so tired that I’m struggling to even read the texts, never mind critique them.

Now that we’ve started the spring semester, I feel more daunted than excited about the new modules and my thesis-to-be. I know that’s more coming from a place of exhaustion than actual disaffection with the course, but all the same, I’m scared. I haven’t caught a break beyond a couple of days in over a month. Between studying, researching equally extensive essays for incoming modules and planning/writing my dissertation, my free time and mental energy reserves will be sorely limited for life outside the library. I don’t want to burn out and end up flunking the whole thing because I sorely underestimated how hard it would be.

I’m meeting student support next week to discuss possible ways I can get extra help (I’m on the autism spectrum), but part of me is wondering if it’d be less stressful to defer or switch to part-time instead. I’m not at the stage where I want to drop out; that’ll mean a waste of six months’ time, a lot of money with nothing to show for it, and a profound sense of shame and regret that’ll dog me for ages afterwards. At the same time, I can’t keep operating under this level of pressure.

I invested a lot to do this Master’s, financially and personally. I want a good grade deep down, I want to settle in the city I’ve moved to study, and I want to work in field that uses the skills gleaned from the qualification, but I honestly don’t know what to do that’ll make that feasible on a full-time basis. I’ve two Bachelors and over four years of professional experience, so dropping out and finding a job wouldn’t be the end of the world, but it’s the nuclear option and I’d really rather not press that button (yet).

I know I didn’t end this late-night tirade with a specific question, so I’ll stop by asking if anyone’s any advice at all? Would appreciate a bit of guidance at this point. Many thanks x
Last edited by Aiteach4; 3 months ago
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The_Lonely_Goatherd
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Absolutely no harm or shame going part-time: clearly you are capable of doing well, so you should do whatever will enable you to feel happy and succeed. Health and wellbeing should always be your first priority.

I did my MA part-time over two years. There weren't student loans for Masters courses when I did mine, so I don't know what the financial implications of going part-time might be for you. I found doing part-time studies after an intense undergrad course such a relief. It was SO nice - and refreshing! - to be able to really dig into a topic and get to grips with the literature properly and at a pace that was more suited to me. Going part-time would also give you ample time to plan for and write up a really good dissertation.

Glad that you have been awarded DSA and that some support with your autism may be coming your way. I've found having 1:1 mentoring via DSA (for psychosis, in my case) such a game-changer :yep:

Good luck with deciding what to do
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