Saturday, 14 February 2015

Here we go again...

You may remember that I finished an MSc in Human Resource Management in 2013 (after all my chat about just wanting more than 53% in my dissertation, I ended up getting a distinction, which was a total shock, but awesome!). After graduating, it felt like something was missing. I was no longer working 70 hours a week AND no longer spending every other second either in the library or with my head in a book. I suddenly had all this free time (well, that might be a bit of an exaggeration, but still, there was more time in the day for cooking and watching crap TV).

I spent a lot of that free time (when I wasn't guiding, watching videos of cats on YouTube or thinking about why I should probably get off the sofa and do some cleaning or tidying or something) researching PhD options. I even contacted a few universities to find out if they specialised in the things I am interested in (here's a handy piece of advice - of you are ever thinking about studying for a PhD, have a more detailed idea of what it is you actually want to study before you email the academic experts with lots of stupid questions).

As lovely as the replies were, I came away from the whole experience feeling a bit bashed and bruised. This is one thing I can't just accidentally fall into. I need more of a plan. And the biggest problem - I don't have a good enough degree.

I knew that bloody 2:2 would come back and bite me one day. Those two little numbers, which people kept telling me aren't important once you've got your first job, and which are, in percentage points, only 1% lower than the cut off for a 2:1, have suddenly created this massive block in the road. I've finally worked our what I want to do next with my life, and one missed answer on an exam paper six years ago is coming back to haunt me. Damn it!

Despite having a Masters degree and lots of relevant experience, I don't have a 2:1 or a relevant degree. There goes the dream of having a PhD by the time I'm 30.

So guess what I started this week?!

Yep, I've gone back to square one, have signed up for a BA (Hons) in International Studies with the Open University, and I'm starting at the very beginning with an 'Introduction to Social Sciences'.

This all sort of happened by accident (surprised much? No, me neither). At some point last year I must have signed up to some sort of mailing list, which meant I would receive a weekly email from the OU telling me what I was missing in my life. I kept hitting delete without reading - I'm too busy to do another degree, I can't afford it, it's just going to be another thing I end up resenting, I don't have time, I already have two degrees I don't need another one, etcetera etcetera. Oh why did I stop listening to the voices in my head?

I'll tell you exactly why. Because studying is awesome. And I get a student card so might be able to buy all the things I don't need. But mostly because I miss studying and learning is fun and the sense of achievement at the end will be so worth it, even if I hate it 93% of the time (which I'm hoping I won't since this is going to be my life for the next hundred years. Or something.)

Also I had two weeks off at Christmas, when I had time to spend all day every day sitting on the sofa, and accidentally read one of those pesky OU emails. I then accidentally clicked on the 'register here' button and typed in my address, just to see what would happen. OK, the next bit (filling in funding applications and reading lots of small print) was slightly more of a conscious process, but then all of a sudden my course materials had arrived and I was getting emails from my tutor, and now I'm at the end of week one and I've spent a lot of time noticing things I'd never even thought about before I became a social science student. And I'm already behind, and the kitchen's a mess because we got a new boiler fitted this week, and I forgot to hang the washing up so have been sleeping in a sleeping bag all week, and I'm a little bit hungover (because that's what students do, right?)

But apart from all that, I'm so excited to be studying again. So far, we have had amazing support, and the resources for the module are incredible, it's all so clearly laid out and there is an obvious path through the module materials so I think it'll be really hard to go off track. I am a little apprehensive about the fact that it's mostly all distance learning. I like to be able to discuss things and share ideas, and it's hard to engage with a discussion on an online forum. We do have a few face to face tutorials, and our first one was on Tuesday, but I'm pretty confident I did at least 50% of the talking, which, given that I hate the sound of my own voice, wasn't exactly the kind of discussion I was going for (I can talk to myself at home, where it is also socially acceptable for me to wear pyjamas and eat cereal straight out of the box).

Overall, I know that I need to do well in this to reach the ultimate goal of doing a PhD. And the great thing about the Open University is that I can take 10 years (or more) to finish this if I want (which I don't), so if life gets in the way, it's not the end of the world.

To those of you who worry about my already limited time, or my inability to sleep, or my mental health, or the cleanliness of my flat, don't worry, I have a plan.

Just be glad you don't have to live with me!

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