A Masters - What's The Point?

By Jan Barnett

Jan Barnett has made it. ... recently completing her Master of Applied Science through Charles Sturt University. With a gap of some 18 years between her B.Ed (Canberra CAE, 1976). Jan shares her thoughts on study commitments while managing a busy school library and keeping the domestic scene running!

The benefits (for me):

  • being current in my professional reading in education, teacher librarianship and librarianship;
  • gaining a sense of achievement;
  • having empathy with all students;
  • improving my time management skills;
  • having a current recognised qualification;
  • being able to study when I wanted to, by using a distance education course.

The problems (not insurmountable):

  • the vagaries of the postal system -Australia Post and the University;
  • writing essays in academic language;
  • bibliographic style;
  • different markers' expectations;
  • time management;
  • wanting to give up when everything looked very black;
  • waiting for results.

The logistics (to be organised ahead of time):

  • make your Masters your priority for the duration of the course;
  • plan your study by the semester to keep on target;
  • have a set time each day when you study - morning, afternoon, evening, late night;
  • have an understanding, independent partner who will forgive your "stress";
  • have supportive library staff and an understanding Principal;
  • have a study buddy, who is also a friend -or at least someone who has studies at post-graduate level;
  • have a study area which no-one else touches -not even the cleaner;
  • buy a computer and learn to use it well -it will also be your friend;
  • let some aspects of your life go: learn to say no and mean it;
  • keep your sense of humour;
  • talk to your lecturers on the phone regularly. You will be lucky to see them more than once every twelve months unless you organise to meet them at a conference.

The outcomes:

  • I finished my dissertation and it was accepted;
  • I have learnt to think more critically and write in an academic manner;
  • my time management s kills have improved;
  • I learnt to say 'no' when it was necessary;
  • My pay did not increase but my self-esteem did.

My recommendations:

If you want to study at a higher level, then do it -but expect it to take over your life. Stick with your decision and communicate regularly with your lecturers and the administration.

My future:

A PhD or possibly a complete change of direction in either career or study!

Jan Barnett


Saint Laurence's College