On: The Things I Learned During My First Year of Masters.


"Go Down The Academic Path They Said. It'll Be Fun They Said…"

I shit you not, It feels like I blinked and I finished my first year! I still can't quite believe that my first year of Masters has flown by so quickly?! It literally still feels like I'm an awkward eighteen year old bumbling through life, now i'm a twenty four year old bumbling through life (albeit with an end goal in sight this time). It has been a very feverish, rushed, exciting and tiring year. A smorgasbord of feelings from extreme sadness to astonishing highs. I felt everything under the sun, probably because I was so intensely focused on 'doing well' this year (more on the doing well bit later..), and my only concern was to get good grades. This year was pleasant though because I've finished on a very comfortable grade for my final year, and I have a clear understanding of my stregths and weaknesses academic wise and even simply life wise. Masters is very different from Undergrad because well… For a start everyone is older and therefore much more mature, for example, there are people who are married, or have kids or do other things alongside Architecture and it makes for a really interesting and cool group of people to talk to in studio. But I digress, here are a few things I learned during my first year in the north...

1.) Get a Life // No, really, i mean you literally have to get a life or else you end up swallowed whole by fleeting grades, Revit, Photoshop and far too many cups of coffee. I found this out the hard way when I ended up crying my way through my Model submission because I wanted a higher grade than the one i received for the design module I had worked tirelessly for. Even if you work day and night, it doesn't mean your project or piece of work will be revered unfortunately and i really wish this culture of work yourself to death, dies (excuse the pun?) because it is so unhealthy mentally, physically and emotionally and i realised whilst doing my review with my tutor that i need to go out and have fun once in a while rather than work myself into an early grave for 'grades'. Yes a first is cool but honestly, it's not that deep, especially at MArch level!

2.) Talk To EVERYONE // I am notoriously uncomfortable and shy around people i'm unfamiliar with because, well, i never know what to say, so i stay silent. I learned during undergrad that making friends and speaking to people is key to keeping sane in a new city. In order to do this, I'd go to studio super early before anyone came in and set up my space for the day, working and making small talk with people who walked by, and I guess it worked because now I have a lovely group of Arch-Mates who are always there for a glass of wine after a long day or the rare night out.

3.) Be Organized // I'd say a big chunk of me doing fairly well this year is down to having a pretty strict routine of waking up at 6:00 am and working in studio from 7:30am till about 7:00pm (sometimes 9:00pm during tough deadlines) and not allowing myself to work at home. It forced me to work quickly and more efficiently, plus working in studio meant I could speak to people and ask for help with unfamiliar programmes like Revit. It also helps to be aware of your weaknesses. I knew that my work at undergrad was very weak and my skill set wasn't as good as most people's so I worked hard to get it up to scratch.

4.) ALWAY Ask For Help // I'm pretty sure the tutor for my Design project wanted to throw a book at me by the time i'd finished my structural submission as I constantly asked him for help regarding how my work well… would work, and each time he was very patient in explaining what would join what and how the whole thing would be structurally and environmentally sound, and i know that my grade would have been much lower without his help. 

5.) Enjoy Yourself & Look After Yourself // Self care is SO important at postgrad level because for the most part, you'll be on your own. I spent a great deal of time punishing myself if I didn't get a first on every piece of work I submitted and I ended up miserable, strung out and exhausted because of it. I realised that I should be treating myself more gently in times of stress and not beating myself up, and slowly i began to undo a lot of the pressure i had put on myself and began to loosen up, meet new people and go out for drinks a lot more!

If you're doing or have done a Postgraduate or even a Doctorate let me know your thoughts below! How was it for you? Has it been useful in the career that you're now in?




  1. Fab tips! I've just finished my first year of my undergrad degree and agree with so many of these Xx


  2. I'm planning on starting mine during summer!!! Great tips

  3. Definitely ask for help! I almost never saw my tutors during my undergrad degree, but I was there every other week during my Masters - and it definitely made all the difference. You're paying for it, so you might as well get your money's worth of education!

    Academic work is some of the most draining - so much more so than a regular day job in my experience - so it's super important to look after yourself and remember that there is a life outside of University! It also helped me (although not much, when I was in the throes of dissertation stress!) to remember the wise words my Grandma always tells me: 'This too shall pass' so enjoy and endure as best you can! x

  4. Loved this post Sade, it takes me back to when I did my undergrad degree. Congrats on finishing your first year of your masters x

  5. Speak to people! I wish i could re-wind to my masters year at Cambridge and just speak to a lot more people. God tips.

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  6. This reminds me of when I was studying for my MBA. I was with working professionals, and coming from a science background, I felt so "less than." It's important to get help where needed and speak to others if there are challenges. And yes, to have a life as well.

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  7. Great tips! I'll be going to school for my master's soon and found this very helpful! :)


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