Saturday, December 3, 2016

Life After An Undergraduate Degree | To Postgrad or Not to Postgrad

Perth WA 6000, Australia
As I wrote in a past post, your twenties can be a real mixed bag of emotions, changes and general what-do-I-do-with-my-life and who-am-I moments. For those of you who, like me, have spent pretty much your whole life in education, life after University may be part and parcel of the general sensation of feeling lost. For as long as I can remember, a large portion of my identity has been the fact that I was a student. So what happens when this is no longer the case?

I have struggled over the past couple of months and feelings of hopelessness were inflated because of unemployment woes (which I wrote about here). Thankfully, I at least have a solid idea of what I don't want to do. That is, I don't wish to pursue a postgraduate degree at this point in time.

Depending on your friendship circle, your experiences on this may differ/have differed from mine. As an ever conscientious student who always strove to do well, making the decision not to return to University for higher study was kind of just...weird. I hate to say it, but for some reason I felt like a failure, a lost cause, like I wasn't using my potential, especially since lecturers and tutors encouraged me to consider further study. These feelings of aimlessness and confusion were compounded by the fact that a lot of my peers are pursuing masters degrees. Even my brother, who for a long while was the 'troubled' child in our family, is set to begin his masters next year. I can't quite explain the feelings of inadequacy and doubt that all this provoked in me. But essentially, I think it's down to the false misconception that you can only be successful if you complete higher studies.

It's been hard to adjust to a life in which formal education no longer plays a part but I'm glad I didn't make the decision to rush into further study. Obviously, for some students, higher education is a necessity for certain careers. And then there are students who do it because they are passionate about academia. But for me personally, I know my decision is the right one because the alternative would see me studying a masters degree simply because I don't have a clear idea of what else to do with my life. I definitely won't rule it out entirely, but for now, I'm glad I realised that doing a masters would've posed as a very costly distraction from my general uncertainties about the future.

There really is no set path in life and definitely no reason to do something just because it may seem the 'done thing' and this stands for going to University at all. For now, I'm going to focus on working, saving, looking out for volunteering opportunities and figuring 'it' all out, whatever 'it' may be. Whether that does end up leading to further studies or not, I feel a lot better knowing that some things just need time and that it's okay to feel lost at times.

If you have any similar experiences, stories or advice I would love to read about them!

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