Amidst the uncertainty of coronavirus, writing a dissertation and coming to the realisation that my undergraduate course in Medical Science was coming to an end, I had an important decision to make. What would I do after graduation?
The first answer that came to mind was to look for an entry level or graduate job. The normal worries that come with finding a job fresh out of university were amplified by the volatile job market.
I also had a gut feeling that I wasn’t ready to start my career because I wasn’t finished studying. This led me to look into postgraduate courses. Over the space of a few weeks I researched a variety of courses and universities, but the only ones that piqued my interest were Applied Bioscience and Forensic Science which were both at ARU (where I had already studied my bachelors degree).
Applied Bioscience seemed to mainly focus on genetics, which is my main area of interest and the course also offered a whole module dedicated to laboratory techniques, which I felt I lacked. Forensic Science also ticked both of these boxes so I felt these two courses were the best fit for me. I also felt a certain attachment to ARU (probably due to my time working as a Student Ambassador) which I felt no other university could contend with.
Once I had decided further study was the best route to take all I had to do was apply and in less than a month I got the all-important email – I had been offered a place on both courses! I spent a few days weighing up options to decide which course I wanted to start in September by searching which career options would be available for both courses, looking at the module descriptions more closely and asked friends and family. I decided Applied Bioscience was much better suited to my interests and future plans.
After accepting my place, I realised I only had few months to plan for the next academic year, starting with accommodation. Due to the pandemic there was the decision of whether I should move to Cambridge or move back home. Under normal circumstances this wouldn’t have been a decision: I am originally from Kent and a two-hour drive to campus every time I had classes sounded a nightmare. But now that remote learning was the new normal, staying at home was an option. So, I had to compare the pros and cons. If I moved away I would need funds to pay for rent and living costs. Student finance worked differently for postgraduate study, so I would get a total of £11,000 over the year but I would also have to use that to pay tuition.
Luckily, a few weeks after I had accepted my place, ARU announced that all alumni would have a 50% discount on course fees (an amazing one-off offer due to COVID but an Alumni Scholarship at ARU is usually available in some capacity). That news was a massive relief which took some of the financial pressure off and I worked out a budget for the next year.
I next needed to consider one of the main reasons I decided to do Applied Bioscience: the laboratory techniques module. If there was a possibility restriction would ease and we would be allowed to go back into the lab I definitely didn’t want to miss the opportunity to get valuable experience. It was starting to look like moving to Cambridge would be more convenient and more appealing (I had outgrown Kent and Cambridge is a beautiful city) but I was still undecided. The deciding factor was when a long-time friend of mine informed me she was going to apply for a postgraduate course, also at ARU… also on the Cambridge campus.
Now I had planned my postgraduate finance and moved into accommodation all that was left to do was choose my study preference (online or blended) and start my course!
Read more about how my journey continued in my next blogs...
Emily studies MSc Applied Bioscience at ARU in Cambridge. If you're interested in postgraduate study and want to find out more about your options, come along to one of our postgraduate Open Evenings.