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Is doing a part time MA two hours from home madness?

(14 Posts)
MrsDrThorne Thu 14-Apr-16 23:24:32

Twenty years after graduating I want to do an MA for 'fun'. I have no particular ambitions to do a PhD and it would only potentially help my career. But I am in dire need of doing something to use my brain. My career has stalled after having children and being made redundant and without outing myself it's in a field that has changed massively in recent years and I do not anticipate being able to work full time in it again.
I do freelance on a part time basis and anticipate that this would continue. My youngest child is about to start school so I would have more time although I appreciate I would have to be extremely organised.
The issue is that the MAs I am interested in are not based anywhere near home. We recently moved to a country town and the nearest unis that do what I want to do are about two hours away by public transport and about one and a half hours by car. The latter is a moot point as I currently can't drive (I am learning). I don't want to do distance learning as I crave time spent with other adults I can have interesting discussions with!
Am I mad to even consider this?

tava63 Thu 14-Apr-16 23:39:40

I don't know what you want to do your Master's in but some are a mix of distance learning and attending a number of weekends over the academic year - one I looked at was 7 weekends each (of 2) academic years.

asilverraindrop Thu 14-Apr-16 23:53:28

I'm getting towards the end of a part time MA at an older age than you. My commute is about an hour each way. In my opinion there are many pros and cons to consider with your decision, but the length of commit you describe would be well down my list, and I have met many MA students with similar journeys to yours. More importantly, are you up for the effort involved in fencing off time to study? Can you afford it? Are you up for the huge committment? I am really really glad I did mine, but the effort has been huge - I am on holiday at the moment but still reading academic stuff for several hours a day because I have essays due. If you are juggling it with family, you may find others regard it as some new and quirky hobby. It isn't, and you have to treat it as a serious undertaking in spite of friends and family really not understanding. Having said all that, mine has been th best thing I've done in a long time. Goodluck!

LadyPeterWimsey Fri 15-Apr-16 09:33:45

I looked into something very like this, and found out that I would only need to be on campus a couple of days a week at most because, as with many MAs there is not very much face-to-face time. If you ask the department what the contact hours are likely to be that will give you a better idea of whether it is doable or not.

biddy53 Fri 15-Apr-16 09:39:47

No - definitely do it. I am doing a full time taught MA at 53. I have a 1.5-2 hour each way commute but only have lecturers and seminars on 1 or 2 days per week - everything else I need is online.

biddy53 Fri 15-Apr-16 09:43:21

Also commuting by train is a perfect time for doing your reading.

MrsDrThorne Sat 16-Apr-16 23:01:16

Thanks for all the replies. I have given this a lot of thought over the last few days and after further reading around have realised that the courses I was thinking of are not quite what I am looking for - and what I am looking for is only available at universities three hours from home. sad
I really am quite gutted. I could just about afford it and had become determined to be organised to manage the workload. A two hour commute is just about do-able and I am used to working evenings - do so a lot in my freelance work.
However in a bid to be positive I am going to contact the course leader of one of the courses (at a uni I always wanted to go to and couldn't as an undergrad, which may be colouring my decision a bit) and ask to have a chat about the course. The website is not as helpful as it could be.
Thanks again and good luck to everyone here doing an MA!

MrsDrThorne Sat 16-Apr-16 23:08:17

And we used tin a city with many universities and down there I would have had the choice of three or four MAs in the quite niche subject I am interested in. Aaaaaggghhhhh!

MrsDrThorne Sat 16-Apr-16 23:08:32

To live in, even

MadamDeathstare Sat 16-Apr-16 23:14:16

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

MeMySonAndl Sat 16-Apr-16 23:21:46

Sorry to hear you couldn't find a course nearer than 2-3 hrs away, IME it is not realistic to do a master based such distance away (unless it is a long distance programme), the costs of commuting with young children are extortionate, both on financial, emotional and energy terms.

You might also need to attend lectures/seminars or spend times I labs in the evenings/weekends, which complicate the things further.

MrsDrThorne Sun 17-Apr-16 00:04:21

MadamDeathstare I don't want to do distance learning as i am desperate to talk to more grown ups and tbh I haven't been able to find anywhere that does it with that option. Thanks for the suggestion though.
MeMySonAndl thanks for the sympathy. I think two hours would be the most I could manage commute wise. Tbh one of the reasons it would take so long is because public transport where I live isn't great and as the crow flies one of the courses that may be suitable isn't actually that far away by car.
They are humanities courses so no lab work involved - I would never contemplate this if it was!
Cost is another issue but if I do decide to be mad enough to do this I think I will borrow enough on a postgrad loan to cover travel costs. I have just looked up the costs of trains to the ideal course (2.45 hours away) and was a bit shock at the price - it would really add up, so having the cash up front from a loan would make sense.
Thanks for the replies. I have been going round in circles now for days and have not told anyone about this but DH so a neutral sounding board is useful!
Now if someone would invent a teleporting machine, that would be helpful...

MeMySonAndl Sun 17-Apr-16 13:05:05

The teleporting machine is called virtual classroom. grin

I tried to do it a few years ago. The train cost was somewhere above £7,000. Driving was even worse as once the petrol, parking fees and evening childcare were considered it was slightly cheaper when it came to money but very expensive when talking about the little time that was left to work in assignments or to attend the essential non regular lectures that were only offered after 7pm.

And that is not the only problem: when you are studying, you are also building a network of potential employers, but if you cannot stay beyond your classes you can't build that network; and even if you can, the opportunities that would come from it will be based mostly in the area where the programme is based.

I much rather study something slightly different that gives you the opportunity to enhance your options locally, especially if you have no plans of moving in the future.

MrsDrThorne Mon 18-Apr-16 13:49:51

MeMySonAndl thanks for your reply but I really don;t want to do distance learning and I haven't been able to find what I want to do via distance or blended learning anyway.
I get your point about commuting time and think I am going to have to discount the course that is furthest away but what I want to do is just not available closer to home and I do not want to take a more generalised approach.
As for meeting future employers - we have recently relocated 200 miles and have no intention of moving again - eg to take a PhD I take your point but I am not planning an MA purely with the intention of doing a PhD. If it turns out I have a real flair for the area I want to study and get offered the opportunity then I will think again but it's not top of my list of things to do. It just seems the right time.
Meanwhile biddy53 can I ask what you did about references? Of the lecturers I had the best relationship with 20 years ago, one has long since retired, one has left academia and one ran the course I did but did not supervise my dissertation so probably barely remembers me!
Equally work wise I have been freelance for seven years and have had no particularly regular clients in that time so am going to have to ask someone I used to work for about nine years ago! (My last boss is an idiot made me redundant and I never liked them).

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