I completed my masters degree in applied psychology, even though I was now clear on the road I wanted to explore more, I wasn’t going to let £8000 go to waste. Then I visited Las Vegas for the summer (a different form of self-exploration) for a research assistant internship at the University of Las Vegas and just because…why not? I resettled in London to begin an expedition into the world of the athletic mind and how we can optimise it.
When it came to selecting a university for my second masters degree, the choice was rather easy for me. There were about 5 options: Loughborough (my first choice), St. Mary’s (my second choice), Durham, Cardiff and Liverpool, if I remember correctly. I had carried out my research into the course durations, module topics, location and of course, fees.
Rejection and Moving On
Admittedly, I hadn’t really heard of Loughborough’s accolades as a sporting university until then. I figured if I was going to do this, I wanted to do it properly. At the highest level. So what better than the number one ranked university in the world for sporting degrees. I applied enthusiastically. I was rejected punctually. Apparently their requirements were a 65% in undergrad. Whilst I was awarded an upper second class, it wasn’t enough.
But that’s ok. Learn not to take rejection so personally. Does it suck not getting what you want? Yes. Should you let it have a lasting effect on you? No. You will be rejected many times in life, for many different reasons, by many different people. Not everyone is obliged to like you or accept you. Move on and be better because of it.
So with that, I applied to St. Mary’s university. I was attracted to the modules and honestly… it was the most convenient location out of the rest. I had family in London I could stay with (minimising the cost for accommodation), I already had friends there, I knew the city well and it was only an hour train ride from home. Logistics matter when you’re a student trying to stay above broke. The decision making process will be your own and you will have different priorities, so consider these when choosing your course.
In terms of the course itself, I definitely encourage you to strongly consider the modules that are offered. Some may interest you more than others and you don’t want to end up spending 3/4 months studying a topic you have no interest in. In my experience this leads to a powerful lack of motivation, resulting in minimal effort and low grades.
Talk to people. Call the universities and speak to the course leaders. Ask questions and if you’re still unsure ask again. Be proactive in seeking advice that will better inform your decision and decision making process.
So what attracted me to this course other than its location? Well, certain modules stuck out for me. The course offered content I hadn’t studied or even been aware of before. A personal preference is learning something completely new, diving into the deep end and constantly expanding my knowledge. For example a module entitled ‘Applied Motor Skills’ was alluring. Never heard of it, had no idea what it entailed, thus I was intrigued and further swayed in my selection of a course.
Turns out I hated it the module. I had no interest in the topic and found it difficult at times to pay attention. However, I never would have learnt or been aware of this aspect of sport psychology if i didn’t take the leap. Coaching, skill acquisition, the importance of instruction and feedback etc. were all concepts I was previously oblivious to, but now often refer to in applied work.
A Final Word
With that I say, get out of your comfort zone. Don’t choose courses or modules based on what you already know. Select something that will challenge you and develop your knowledge and skills. That is what education is for, take advantage of it!
Another important feature that helped me choose the right course was the staff. Throughout the process of asking questions (and asking again), I was met with friendly, willing to help staff/module leaders/lecturers etc. This was important in making me feel at ease and confident in what I was doing. More often than not the questions weren’t even course or uni specific but rather about this path of becoming a sport psych in general. Lastly (and probably a cliché but no less important) talk to your family, friends or significant others. Whoever you circle yourself with. Deliberate your options, weigh the pros and cons and consider what is best for yourself and your academic growth.
The process can be daunting if you’re torn… Go for it!
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