Lessons From My Masters Study

Sometimes I ask myself if I was going mad when I signed up for a Masters in Psychology earlier this year. I started the course, part-time, in September. I was excited and motivated to gain a deeper and more scientific understanding of the human mind and behaviour; and how this could develop me in all aspects of my life. And, then, reality bit.

Finding 20 hours a week on top of a busy career, juggling family commitments and protecting my ‘third space’ is problematic. But this has not been the most significant challenge. The greatest challenge has surprised me. It’s been learning how to read and write critically at a Masters degree level and embrace academia.

Specific challenges I have overcome:

·      Fear of asking for help from my peers and the University staff on how to read and write at the appropriate level. I bit the bullet, and I have now had generous support from both.

·     Trying to find shortcuts. At first, I tried to find shortcuts to learning, but I’ve now realised this journey is not just about gaining a qualification, but the knowledge and growth I’ll experience along the way. If I don’t do the hard yards, it just won’t be anywhere near as rewarding.

·      The need to look good. I found myself feeling concerned about finding the right answer and being impressive. I’m 48 and successful in my field, so I should be able to demonstrate this through my academic study, right? No. I have a lot to learn, and I’m now prepared to do poorly at first so that I can get better.

The breakthrough moment came through a conversation with my 16-year-old son. I told him I was procrastinating around the submission of my first discussion paper for peer and academic review. He asked me some simple questions:

·      What question would you ask a client or me in the same situation?

·      What are you really frightened of? How are you going to learn if you don’t do the discussion papers?

Questions are the answers.

I’ll be posting these ‘Studying for a Masters’ blogs every so often, with specific examples of how I’m learning to develop my mindset and the experience. I hope you find some of my learnings useful.