Threads

See more results

Topics

Usernames

Mumsnet Logo
Please
or
to access all these features

Help :Advice needed on MA and deadlines possible defer/drop out
27

Peaseblossom22 · 23/06/2018 16:35

I am in the second year of my MA part time at a University well known for its support of mature part time students .So far I have an excellent attendance record and have submitted all pieces of work on time , essays averaging in the high 60s .I love my course and commute a couple of hours to get to classes ,I also have a part time but fairly senior job. This is just to give context.

Currently I am almost at the end of my last taught module ,I think it has been my favourite so far and I have my dissertation to complete.I have done most of the research but feel hopelessly behind and unprepared and unable to focus i just cannot seem to find the headspace or physical time to order my thoughts. I cannot see how I am going to complete my dissertation and a 5000 word essay by mid August and September respectively .I am meant to have 4000 words to my supervisor by Tuesday and there seems no hope at the moment.

Outside work my life since January seems to have fallen apart and there is just no headspace for my course. I had that awful cold and flu which took forever to get over and knocked the stuffing out of me , I am also menopausal which seems to have kicked off big time .

My mother decided to move across the country to live closer (we have a difficult relationship at the best of times) this has involved selling her house , moving her physically up here, finding a rental property , helping her buy a property and generally supporting her in a whole new environment. She has now found a house to buy but it needs all new bathrooms , decorating, carpets and she wants to put in new kitchen and guess who is doing the donkey work on this .DS3 has had GCSEs which despite the fact that he is largely self starting seems to have consumed a lot of time and support and driving backwards and forwards to school as has been on study leave only going in for exams.

Ds2 has extra needs and is coming to the end of an apprenticeship and seems to need me every evening to help with job applications , interview practice etc . Father (not married to mother ) has developed memory problems , he is coping great and has SM for support but we are close and I felt knocked for six by the initial diagnosis as i knew it was his worst nightmare .

Dh is supportive but works long hours in senior role.He thinks I should just give up things , exactly what he isn't specific about but generally takes the view that I do too much and we live our lives in a constant state of chaos.He gets frustrated by my always moaning that I don't have enough time but often lets me down if I delegate due to 'pressure of work'.This will not change , work will always be his priority so its no good just saying I should get him to commit more time because I have tried everything over the last 30 years .

it will break my heart not to complete , this has been a long held dream , but my head is every where,I just keep crying with frustration. .If I ask to repeat the year will I have to change my dissertation topic? Should I just give up ?

Totally overwhelmed by everything , now on top of everything else I have toothache, please someone give me some advice .

OP's posts:
Please
or
to access all these features

titchy · 23/06/2018 16:51

Talk to your tutor on Monday! There's no reason why you'd have to change dissertation topic, unless it's very niche and the tutor is leaving. Finish the taught part then take a break in study for a year.

Assuming you're studying where I think you are (B?) every year hundreds and hundreds of students do this - it genuinely is not a problem at all.

Good luck!

Please
or
to access all these features

Peaseblossom22 · 23/06/2018 16:55

Really ?I feel such a failure and my tutor is so enthusiastic about my topis and I was even thinking about a Phd (self funded . I am over 50)when i finish I can't believe I have got myself into this mess .I feel ashamed that I am not coping, Yes it is B!

What do I say to the tutor , I so don't want to let him down

OP's posts:
Please
or
to access all these features

titchy · 23/06/2018 17:16

Oh God yes you are very very typical!!!! Just tell him what you've said here - you don't have to go into as much detail of course. But seriously don't worry - you're not letting anyone down.

Please
or
to access all these features

WanderingWavelet · 23/06/2018 18:14

You won’t be letting your tutor down. If a promising hard-working and high achieving student of mine came to me with this situation I would be very happy to try to put a plan in action to keep her engaged and moving on, but at a pace which fitted around her other commitments.

(I’d try very hard not to splutter about your husband, and I’d probably rant to my colleagues about his selfishness).

Your posts sound very rational and methodical and organised. So keep hold of that - you are going well in highly charged circumstances.

There will be things you can do. In the first instance, extensions of time to complete your work.

But I get the main problem- lack of headspace to think through the dissertation argument and research. You need clear thinking time. Generally, we need a lot more of it than any of us can manage to carve out. So some strategies I’ve developed in my academic career - something might help.

Chunk out the work. Don’t think of the ultimate word length. Think in sections or paragraphs.

Try to see if you could set aside an hour each day in which you concentrate solely on your work. You’ll need to be disciplined and not let other thoughts intrude. Or maybe just half an hour to start with?

Try doing some reading towards your research essays and dissertation - again for maybe only half an hour a day. But overa week, that’s three and a half hours. Enough to get to grips with a key article, for example.

Writing: think about writing 250 words a day, and try slowly to get it up to 500 words a day. In 2 weeks, you’ll have a 5,000 word draft. At the first draft stage, don’t worry about the quality or referencing or whatever. Just try to get your thoughts ideas and arguments down on the page

First drafts are usually awful. But they help you discover the ideas and the GOOD work lurking in your brain. Give yourself permission to write a shitty first draft (to quote Anne Lamont in Bird by Bird).

And another of her guidelines is the one inch square focus: start a piece of writing by focusing in on a dental or a small manageable aspect of the topic. Do that thoroughly and you will find it’ll take you to the larger issues.

Good luck Flowers

Please
or
to access all these features

Peaseblossom22 · 23/06/2018 18:24

Wandering thank you thats all really good and helpful advice. I have sectioned out the work but just cannot seem to focus at the moment .I have a professional job a d have kept that going despite having 3 children 1, possibly 2 with extra needs but this time I just feel so overwhelmed and every time I get going something goes wrong , like today when i have toothache.

Part of me just wants to plough on and say next week i will make more time etc and it will be ok but another just knows that until i get my mother settled in her new house my head is never going to be clear enough. I keep setting aside an hour a day etc and every day it gets eroded by life. And the upshot is that i need to be brave nad admit defeat and put in place a proper plan.

OP's posts:
Please
or
to access all these features

WanderingWavelet · 23/06/2018 18:39

It’s NOT defeat.

You are surrounded by self-centred people. You are at your limits of caring.

You probably need to take some time out - talk to your tutor about a leave of absence maybe.

Please
or
to access all these features

nNina22 · 23/06/2018 18:46

I've been where you are and I have found the best way to get over that panicky feeling about a looming essay deadline is to create an overall structure with headings a bit like this. Then make bullet points within each heading:
introduction (what is the essay about in general)
background (theories and what other people have written about it ie the literature ),
method - your own question and theoretical approach to answering it.
Arguments,
Discussion,
Conclusion
References
As a first draft it will give you a sense of where you are going with the essay, help you order your thoughts and will give your supervisor/tutor an idea of your thought processes. You will also find you are well on your way to your 4000 words.
DON'T GIVE UP. It doesn't have to be perfect!

Please
or
to access all these features

japanesegarden · 24/06/2018 22:39

I did a part time MA over 2 years around the age of 50, while dealing with the aftermath of my dad dying 2 months before it started, my FIL dying during it, caring for my mother for most of it, interspersed with 2 emergency hospital stays for her, emptying and selling her house and moving her to a care home, PLUS dealing with various pastoral issues and transfer from school to university for 2 daughters and an extra visiting child, and working part time. I didn't do a single piece of work without an extension for one reason or another. They granted me every extension unquestioningly, sometimes with personal notes of support from senior academics I'd never met. I finished, got a distinction, and moved on to a PhD, for which I obtained funding. So -
a) plenty of us have been in this boat
b) they've seen it all before
c) do what you need to do to get through it, and don't beat yourself up about it, whatever that is
d) don't give up - interrupting for a year or a term is fine, if you need to, but don't abandon it altogether. I'm so glad I kept going.
e) doing this at all, with all the extra hassle around it that doing it midlife brings, is really hard and something to feel good about, not something to beat yourself up over. Be kinder to yourself!
f) good luck!

Please
or
to access all these features

Peaseblossom22 · 24/06/2018 22:48

I know i am hard on myself, I just drafted an email to my tutor but it sounds so lame to me and i am not sure what the ebst solution is . I just have this vision of him thinking "well what do you want me to do about it" Japanesegarden you sound like superwomen!

I am not sure whether I should take a break, ask for an extension on my dissertation or on my last module essay or both. Or just ask to retake the second year completely .

OP's posts:
Please
or
to access all these features

titchy · 25/06/2018 07:44

Why retake the second year entirely - what have you taken this year? How is the last module going? You'll have finished the taught part by now - if you're close to finishing the assignment then ask for an extension on that, then a break in study for a year during which you can start work on your dissertation. Honestly I can't tell you how common this is!

Please
or
to access all these features

Peaseblossom22 · 25/06/2018 07:59

Yes I am wondering about that , I have passed one module this year and have this second one to do , i am really enjoying it actually .

One option is to bank the one module , treat this one as an audit module and do one more module next year and dissertation.

or;do as you suggest , although the regulations say that the University does not grant extensions , you have to apply for mitigating circumstances

or just try to get mitigating circumstances which seem to imply that i could get an agreed extended deadline for my dissertation.

I have no idea if I could get any of these agreed.I know everyone says its common but when you look at the mitigating circumstances form the criteria seem very tight .For example it says predictable family responsibilities are not admissible and neither is inadequate time planing which this may apply to !

OP's posts:
Please
or
to access all these features

Gruach · 25/06/2018 08:02

Much empathy from me too OP.

I can’t help feeling you could be a little angrier at the people who have failed to support you while you run around supporting them ...

Getting official extensions can be horrendous - taking up time that might be better spent actually doing the thing. But, if your tutor thinks this is viable then get the extensions you need for both and press on.

Is there any way you could remove yourself from domestic life for even a week? Honestly, sometimes you have to put yourself first. This is one of those times. Can you get any leave from your professional work? And take yourself somewhere quiet? Even if you’re too exhausted to make progress with the academic stuff it would help your brain.

Your mother’s kitchen is not the priority now!

Please
or
to access all these features

Gruach · 25/06/2018 08:08

Apologies, crossed you on mitigating circs. Truthfully, if you can find a way to keep going I would do that. Who’s to say you won’t find yourself drowning under even more responsibility next year.

Please
or
to access all these features

Peaseblossom22 · 25/06/2018 08:48

Sadly for my mother the kitchen is a priority! Its always easy to say you could remove yourself but for example I had arranged that for a week in July, three of those days have now been hijacked for other things!

I do feel it will be easier after September , I managed a postgrad cert before this and then a year of my MA and then it has just come as a perfect storm. DS3 GCSEs , DS2 needing to find a new job, my mother moving (my only sibling lives abroad so i am solely responsible) and not least me having the most awful virus over the winter which knocked me for 6.

By Sept, ds3 will be in sixth form with no public exams , mum will be settled in new home ,ds2 will hopefully have found a job (he has SEN so needs extra support at critical times but is generally very self sufficient). But of course you are right other things always come up.

Not sure what the point is in being angry of course i do get angry but its a bit of a wasted emotion. dh worked all day yesterday , in the 30 minutes it took for him to drive home from local office he had 6 emails from client . He is also under pressure . it is his job which keeps us going , enables me to pay fees .etc He wants me to succeed but also wants life to be less hectic and chaotic.

Boys don't do enough for themselves and always want everything done yesterday like most teenagers but they do support me and always happy to give hugs, cups of tea etc , I also have a FIL who is brilliant for lifts etc but this year just seems to have been one where I can't be substituted .

OP's posts:
Please
or
to access all these features

wizzywig · 25/06/2018 08:55

Get an extension. It may mean you don't graduate with your friends though. It'd be such a shame to just stop. You'll kick yourself. P.s my dissertation is due in at the end of July. Keep posting. We can be dissertation buddies. Is it birkbeck or birm you are at?

Please
or
to access all these features

titchy · 25/06/2018 09:24

B's interpretation of mit circs regs is very very loose and flexible....

Please
or
to access all these features

WanderingWavelet · 25/06/2018 14:42

I just drafted an email to my tutor but it sounds so lame to me and i am not sure what the ebst solution is . I just have this vision of him thinking "well what do you want me to do about it"

No, no, no! There ARE things your tutor can do about it: extensions, or interruption for a start.

You are also a superwoman. Don't be so tough on yourself.

(If you look at some of my other posts in this section of MN, you'll see I'm no pushover - I'm tough but straight & fair - your case would have me working with you to find a feasible way of you continuing and completing.

Please
or
to access all these features

Peaseblossom22 · 25/06/2018 15:00

Am going into see tutor tomorrow , he has suggested putting in a mitigating circs application and says that will give him more flexibility .

I feel a bit more positive today , have also submitted an essay plan for my other module and youngest son post GCSEs has gone over to friends so its quiet BUT mother just called though she is popping over aaagh

Thnak you to everyone for advice and support .

OP's posts:
Please
or
to access all these features

UnnecessaryFennel · 25/06/2018 15:09

Hope it goes well OP. Fwiw most universities have mit circs procedures that look strict but in actual fact are pretty flexible. Particularly somewhere like your institution which basically caters for mature students with many many other commitments and responsibilities! I'd be surprised if you had any issues at all with having your mit circs granted. Best of luck.

Please
or
to access all these features

WanderingWavelet · 25/06/2018 15:35

Good luck, OP Flowers

Please
or
to access all these features

Peaseblossom22 · 25/06/2018 17:10

Thank you Wave , will keep you posted !

OP's posts:
Please
or
to access all these features

crazyhead · 26/06/2018 10:58

Just to say - be kind to yourself. I'm in my 40s with little kids and doing my dissertation for my conversion MSc and the moment, and worrying like anything how I'll get through it.

I had a huge crack-up this weekend (even though I've worked hard and done well on the course). Then I went back and read the guidelines about hours of work for the MSc etc and I felt better. The reality is, these courses are set up for people without major caring responsibilities, and you can get in this awful state - you feel guilty for looking after the people you need to look after, and doing basic stuff like 25 mins in the school assembly, or putting out the bins, or helping a friend in crisis, or anything that you HAVE to do in all decency - the hours a day of chores adult women with families get landed with.

But there's a reset button where (even in the midst of panic) where we deserve self respect, not self censure for getting this far. Starting from that point, and putting in the pragmatism that we've learnt to get through everyday life has to be the answer.

Please
or
to access all these features

Peaseblossom22 · 07/05/2019 18:06

Just wanted to update this thread and ask another question. Thanks to all the support on here and help I applied for an extension which was granted almost by return. I completed the taught module and then submitted my dissertation in January. My tutor was really supportive despite the fact that it still wasn’t plain sailing .

My new question is how long the marking usually takes when you are outside the normal cycle . It’s been four months now , I did politely ask the dept administrator who kindly said he would hurry it along but I fretting there is some sort of problem .

OP's posts:
Please
or
to access all these features

1Wildheartsease · 07/05/2019 18:13

Well done Peaseblossom22. Don't worry too much about the time lapse. Final parts do take time. Delays do not mean that there is a problem with the work.

Please
or
to access all these features

impostersyndrome · 14/05/2019 17:26

MA tutor here. I wouldn’t think there’s a problem with it. Perhaps it’s waiting for second marker, but either way I think four months is excessive to wait for feedback along with an indicative grade (normally confirmed at exam board). Does your handbook specify how long to expect? Where we are it’s about four-six weeks. I’d email your course leader to enquire what your local expectations are.

Please
or
to access all these features
Please create an account

To comment on this thread you need to create a Mumsnet account.