How to make up for dodgy first degree?
April 10, 2010 1:11 PM Subscribe
UK postgrad filter: How do I make up for a fairly mediocre first degree when applying for a postgraduate degree?
I graduated in 2009 with a fairly decent but not spectacular degree: 2.1 in English Literature and Language from Oxford. I would like to go onto postgraduate work, in a different field, and don't know how realistic my prospects are.
I would like to apply for an MA in Anthropology, particularly Cultural or Social Anthropology. I will not do so for at least another year, to give me enough time to read widely enough around the area, and to ensure that it's what I really want to do. I'm looking at one of the London unis-- Birkbeck, Goldsmiths, SOAS or LSE-- but I would consider elsewhere, including the States or Canada if I had funding.
Yet more background:
I cocked up my undergraduate degree through not working enough and being disengaged with the course-- I realised fairly soon when I got there that I was disinterested in large sections of the course and should probably drop out and apply again for a different subject, but didn't. (There were a range of reasons I didn't drop out, looming large amongst them: I was the first person in my family to go to uni and one of the very few from my local area to go to any university at all, and I didn't want to seem like a failure to them. I'm posting this anonymously because I'm embarrassed to admit this to people that know me.) After finishing my degree I was burnt out and miserable, and pretty much fled Oxford. I am about as far out of the academic loop as it is possible to be right now.
I had a range of marks during my degree-- firsts on some papers, mediocre 2.1s on others, terrible 2.2s on a few. I know I can get at least one glowing reference from a tutor I had there (who's quite famous, to boot).
The awful thing is that at least one of my tutors considered me to be one of the most intelligent people in my year, and I *know* that if I had worked harder I could've easily got a first class degree. I did very well in certain notoriously difficult areas of the course and then fucked up basic ones, through my own sheer lack of motivation. I did well on areas that would transfer over to Anthropology, particularly Critical Theory.
-- Is there anything I can practically do now I have graduated in order to stand out to a postgrad admissions officer? Tips particularly suited to anthropology would be greatfully received. I have about a year or two to play with here.
-- Is it unreasonable to expect to go onto postgraduate work with a 2.1? I know that most graduate admissions sites say a 2.1 is the minimum pre-requisite, but are firsts expected now due to the recent upswing in applications?
-- Are there any MA programs that allow you to write an extended essay as part of your application, or submit a piece of undergraduate writing as part of your application?
-- Have I irrevocably fucked all chances of me getting any kind of financial scholarship? (I am poor. I work in a low-paid, low-skill admin job. Neither I nor my family have access to any kind of savings. I am in the usual student debt from my first degree-- 21k as I had top-up fees. I am pretty much resigned to doing a part-time MA and working to support myself and pay my fees, although I would rather do a full-time MA.)