7 reasons to sign up for (adult) study

Signing up for a Masters degree seems like a strange thing to do to find time for yourself but, for me, getting some much-needed ‘Robyn time’ has been a surprising consequence of studying. When I started the MA (part-time via distance learning with Birmingham City University) four years ago (pre-children, with a full-time job) I had no idea the impact it would have.

It gives me great pleasure to be writing this on the day of submitting my final MA assignment and embracing the freedom and spare time this will open up. While crossing fingers until results day, I do now have the brain capacity to reflect on what an amazing journey this has been. So…

1) It’s a confidence booster

Just being accepted onto an MA course (I don’t have an undergraduate degree) was a huge confidence boost and I confess to being hugely nervous about whether I would cope with academia. Being able to grasp concepts, contribute valuable ideas and communicate at MA level does wonders for self-confidence and the fact I’ve done this either side of the birth of my two children, 11 months apart (I took a break during this time!) just adds to the sense of achievement. I’ve also discovered that…

2) I have a brain

Mr brain is working in a different way, thanks to the MA. I’m now asking questions and looking at different ways to approach, organise and do things. I’ve become more strategic. The way the MA is delivered — online and with a ‘learn by doing’ approach, I’ve been forced out of my comfort zone over and over again and success, when you come out the other side, is hugely satisfying. Which leads nicely into…

3) Impact on work

The MA directly relates to what I do for a living, running the social media team at a university, and it’s having a positive impact. I have more knowledge stored away and more resources — from contacts to apps to books to technology — to help me. I’m approaching ideas from a journalist’s point of view again and having that external focus really helps when trying to promote an organisation from the inside. On the flip side, work also helped with the MA. I was able to test theories and tools during the working day which contributed to my learning journey without eating into personal time. And that included a pilot project on our university Instagram account and the 24,000-word eBook on Instagram in Higher Education which followed. On top of that I’ve gained…

5) A growing network of useful contacts

It’s no coincidence that my network of followers on Twitter has grown since jumping on the MA trail. Not only do I have more to talk about offline, I’m more chatty online too. I have more to say and on a different range of topics. I’m not showing off here, by the way, just pointing out that growing a following organically is a nice consequence of study and learning new things, and it’s given me more opportunities to blog for platforms other than my own. Add all the points above together and this means I am…

6) Making more of my spare time

The spare time available when doing the MA was limited, so I made the most of it. When I collapsed on the sofa to catch up on Billions or watch a movie with hubby, I knew I truly deserved it (I know, a movie night, I’m so rock and roll). I think the more you do things, the less you enjoy them and I was guilty of using up my spare time slumped on the sofa, thinking it was the only way to switch off and relax after a busy day. Now my sofa slumps are rare but utterly earned. Learning to make the most of your time is, to me, just as important as learning how to critically evaluate a project. And finally…

7) Future planning

I’m the first member of my family to enter university-level education. I don’t believe university qualifications are always the best route into careers (I ignored it when I was 18 and it did me no harm), but I’m proud to have done it in my 30s. And it’s given me options: I hope, one day, to be a university lecturer and the MA will be a big help. But if you asked my husband, he’d probably say I’m good at lecturing now! I’ve also got a taste for learning and understand the value of it, both personally and professionally and will certainly be dipping my toe into webinars, workshops and conferences to expand on the MA knowledge. After all, in the creative industries, nothing stays relevant for too long.

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