At last, it had happened. After six years of study, I'd now got my degree. It
was a very strange feeling, as during my studies I couldn't imagine actually
getting to this point, but here I was. Most of the time I just concentrated
on [whichever] course I was doing at the time, but sometimes I'd day-
dream about getting to the end. But it always seemed so far off … The real
landmark for me was the degree ceremony. This was the point at which I
realized that I had finally reached my goal and the journey was over. It was
also at this point that I discovered that, now I had finished the degree, I
had a hole in my life. Clearly, I couldn't give up studying just yet…
(Open University graduate Stephen Collis, Open University 2004a: 20)
This chapter deals with the end of your part-time study. Drawing on student experiences, I discuss the issue of 'what next?' – what do you do after you have finished your part-time degree and how do you decide whether to continue? For some students, the completion of their part-time study is an end point. There is a sense of achievement, and of completion, and of delight that they have finished.
Undertaking a part-time MPhil was a very challenging and difficult task. I had
previously done a full-time masters degree and I found the difference between
full-time study and part-time study challenging and hard to adapt to at first. The
MPhil put pressure on my job and in particular on family life, which had to stop
for many weekends, especially as the research phase of the course kicked in.
Completing and getting through the viva was a cause for real celebration and
left a great feeling of accomplishment. My wife was particularly pleased – it
meant I was able to get on with the ever-increasing list of jobs she had been
saving up for three years!
(Joseph, part-time MPhil, Philosophy)