I know that, around this time of year, a lot of people in London are considering whether to press on with their application to go to Birkbeck college, so here I am hoping to pick up the passing Google traffic and urging you to go if:
You are prepared to do the work;
You want to realise your potential;
You want to change your life.
Going to Birkbeck will not create a new you – but it could allow the real you to escape for wherever it has been hidden these last few years.
Today was graduation day for my MSc and I have to say I rather enjoyed it.
The master of Birkbeck, David Latchman, gave a very good speech I thought, emphasising the college’s commitment to its part-time students and to helping them get the funding to which they are entitled and we also got a speech by Gulam Noon – being made a fellow – who made his views very clear when he quoted the Hadith “the ink of scholars outweighs the blood of martyrs”.
The master also made the point that Birkbeck’s graduates are its greatest recruiters and that we should do our bit to encourage applications – which I am more than happy to do.
I get a lot of people coming to the site clearly considering whether it is worth their while taking up their offer of a place to do an MSc in Computer Science at Birkbeck. So, I want to say that they should, but they should think about:
Have they got the time – for a part-timer this can mean three evenings a week of three-hour’s worth lectures: you can get away with missing some (as I had to because I was out of the country) but you will suffer as a result.
Have they got the right mental attitude – I have to say I was a bit iffy on this in the first year (until the shock of the exams), as I thought it was all C++ (been there, done that) and a bit of ‘A’ level maths – turned out to be a bit harder than that after all!
It’s quite hard work in the end – especially the very end, with the project – your friends and relations will think that because you have passed the exams it must be a doddle from this part on, when it actually gets worse. You can think of it as passing the exams meaning you have reached the level of a graduate, you then have to complete the project to earn the Masters – so three years in two years (or one if you are full-timer) and then another year in three months!
But it’s also great, an intellectual stretch and a gateway to lots of other things.
If you do take it up, try and read up some stuff in advance – I really wish I had done that in my first year – I have a few recommendations here, but there are lots of other books to read.