Why I Went Back to University 7 Years After Completing Undergrad

Michael J. Vowles
9 min readOct 28, 2021

A few years ago, I wrote a somewhat zany post in which I explored the differences between the nightmares I have as an adult and the ones that plagued me as a child. In that post, I listed returning to education as one of my most frequent recurring nightmares as an adult- specifically in the form of a postgraduate degree. In each version of the dream, I would be unable to perform basic tasks- keeping up with deadlines, concentrating on assignments, or simply understanding the work. It all amounted to a general sense of being “out of touch”, of going back to something I used to do and finding myself no longer able to function in that setting. I’d lost that part of myself forever.

And yet here I am, right now in my waking life, in the thick of postgraduate education. After graduating from the University of Winchester with a BA in Creative Writing in 2014, I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life, or better yet- what I could possibly offer to the job market. I came close to doing an online MA in Creative Writing, but my heart wasn’t in it. Delaying adulthood didn’t seem like an adequate justification for taking on more debt. After that I stopped considering education- though as I mentioned, it would continue to creep into my dreams for some reason. I spent the next 7 years traveling and doing odd jobs, during which there were many peaks and troughs, but in which I never made any headway toward a career. In 2020 I realized an uncomfortable thought that I’d long been avoiding- the likelihood that without a proper, full-time career job, I would at some point lose access to my friends across the Atlantic. Flying to Texas is expensive. The fear that I would gradually lose my closest friends gave me a renewed drive to find a career. At first, I fired off applications in all directions in the hope that one would stick. None did.

Soon my search began to focus on proofreading and editorial work within the publishing industry. I had a strong conviction that working on books and being around people that loved books would make me happy. I decided I might as well try to find a career that I would enjoy. This was somewhat new for me- I’d always been resigned to the assumption that I’d never be able to earn a living doing something that made me happy. But all of a sudden, I had a slight confidence. I…

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Michael J. Vowles

Freelance writer, occasional traveler, full-time ice cream taster. I run a blog at https://tumbleweedwrites.com where I ramble with enthusiasm.