Postgraduate Point of View
Keeping calm and carrying on - Life as a Postgrad in Lockdown
For most of us, making the decision to pursue a postgraduate degree was not one that is taken lightly - but a feat in and of itself. Wherever you are in your degree - you’ve made it this far and that is amazing!
Lockdown has been in place for around 3 months; that’s a quarter of the whole year! So if you're a full time MA student, that’s a lot of your year gone - and it's not over yet.
We know postgraduates might have felt a little forgotten about in the grand scheme of things - as a postgraduate myself, I really understand your position. I’m not saying that the undergraduates have had it easy, but most of them would have had meetings with their tutors before lockdown about their dissertation. If you’re in the same position I am in, you’ll have started your dissertation without meeting with your tutor, and for some of my classmates, without even having met your supervisor at all. The fact that you are continuing and cracking on is brilliant, and shows the strength and resilience needed to do a postgraduate degree. Even if you’re struggling with ideas and motivation, you’re still doing great.
But it is an anxious and sometimes overwhelming time. You watch the days merge into weeks, with the knowledge that you still have deadlines to complete. It creates an uneasy feeling that, whilst some are enjoying the sunshine in lockdown, or taking the time to pick up new skills or work on their hobbies, you don’t have the time or the opportunity to do that. You feel guilty because you should be working on your deadlines or hand-ins. This isn’t exactly a time where inspiration strikes. It feels quite claustrophobic and you don’t feel like you have any motivation, because the reality is, an online meeting or phone call with your tutor doesn’t feel as organic or productive as a face-to-face meeting. You’re not getting up and getting ready to go into Uni, you can’t go and spend the day in the library, reading and doing your work, and you’re not having those opportunities postgraduates before us had. You are not alone. Lots of students are in the same position you are and we are trying to support you to the best of our ability.
Undergraduates are feeling like they are ‘missing out’ on those university experiences, but we’re older and wiser, and ‘lucky’ that our undergraduate experience hasn’t been affected by the global pandemic. Those who choose to undertake postgraduate study do so for the want of furthering their education even more and for the love of learning. It is a conscious choice of wanting to stay and study more; but that has been taken away from us. Instead, many sit at home, in beds-turned-desks, trying to continue with study that isn’t what any of us expected. It’s a tough hand we’ve been dealt, but we can make it through this.
The real big pain is - it’s not over. Whilst the undergraduates breathe a deep sigh of relief that they hand in their final deadlines, or take that last at-home test, the postgraduates must power through, power on and keep going. We still have another three to four months left.
Many emails have gone out from us at the Union, and from the University. We’ve tried to be as inclusive as possible, but the reality is, there is a clear divide in the information needed for undergraduates and postgraduates - one size does not fit all. The guidance we need from the University is different from the information they have given undergraduates. In fact, there is a need for different information between postgraduate studies - MA, MSc, MRes, PhD - all of these have vastly different structures, and yet the blanket information we’ve been given doesn’t truly cover the information we need to know. We want to fix that.
As postgraduates, we are more independent, especially in terms of our learning. If we need information, we know to seek it, and if we don’t know who to ask, we find out. It comes with the territory. But that doesn’t mean we don’t want reassurance.
Your Sabbatical Officers have set up a specific Facebook Group for you: The University of Portsmouth Postgraduate Student Community. This is a space for sharing resourcing, connecting with other postgraduates and a safe space to share your concerns.
You can also fill out our Covid-19 Follow Up Survey, where you can share your thoughts and feelings on the current climate.
We want to support you as much as possible - if you have a suggestion please let us know! You can get in touch with your Sabbatical Officers (soon to be Elected Officers) by emailing email@example.com.
Remember: it’s tough, but you’re doing great, and keep going.
Wellbeing Portsmouth UoP
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