So, you’ve got big dreams of pursuing a postgraduate course after your graduation. That’s awesome! A postgrad adventure is a fantastic way to dive deeper into a field you’re passionate about and boost your career prospects. But hold your horses, my friend. Before you dive headfirst into those applications, there are a few things you need to know. Here are 11 handy tips to guide you on your postgrad journey.
Why are you doing it?
First things first, you need to figure out why you want to pursue a postgrad in the first place. Having a solid reason or goal will keep you motivated throughout the course and prevent confusion when you come out on the other side. Think about how a postgrad degree will help you achieve your future goals. Is it essential for career advancement or personal growth? If you’re just considering it to avoid employment or because you’re unsure of what else to do, it might be worth digging deeper and exploring your future prospects.
Not every career requires it.
Listen up, folks. A postgrad qualification isn’t necessary for every career out there. In fact, there are very few career paths that require a postgrad as a prerequisite. If you’re aiming for a career in medicine, nursing, teaching, psychology, or anything within the science or research sector, a postgraduate degree will often be beneficial. But for most industries, it’s your attitude, work ethic, experience, personality, and determination that will propel you to the top, not just your qualifications.
It can cost a pretty penny.
Let’s talk about the cold, hard truth: Postgraduate tuition fees can be a hefty expense. We’re talking anywhere from £9,000 per year to over £30,000, with the average fee sitting at around £11,000. And guess what? They can be even higher for international students. But fret not! There are funding options available, such as government loans, grants, bursaries, research council grants, scholarships from employers or institutions, and some universities even offer alumni discounts. Make sure to explore these options before jumping into a loan. Also, consider how you’ll repay the loan after your course, especially if you already have an undergraduate loan to tackle.
It may boost your earnings in the long run.
Here’s the silver lining, my friend. Statistics have shown that having a postgrad degree can lead to higher earnings over time. However, if your chosen career doesn’t prioritize a postgrad, it’s unlikely to result in a higher starting wage. So, weigh the financial pros and cons and consider the long-term benefits before making your decision.
It’s a networking opportunity.
Prepare to expand your professional network, my soon-to-be postgrad pal! Many former postgrad students credit their courses for the valuable contacts they made along the way. You’ll have access to professionals in your field who may open doors to employment opportunities down the line. But keep in mind that networking opportunities can vary between universities, so do your research when selecting your preferred courses. And remember, a significant chunk of networking can also come from being out in the real world—working, volunteering, interning, or gaining relevant experience.
You can work and study at the same time.
Who says you have to choose between work and postgrad study? Many courses offer flexibility, allowing you to balance your studies with a job. You can study in the evenings or on weekends, and some employers may even let you go part-time, take a sabbatical, or have study leave. This way, you can keep earning money while applying what you learn in real-life situations and advancing your career. Just be prepared—it can be exhausting, so it might not be the best option if you have other major commitments.
A degree isn’t always necessary.
Believe it or not, some postgrad programs don’t require an undergraduate degree. Certain companies, professional bodies, and a limited number of further education colleges offer courses for postgrads that bypass the need for a degree. In these cases, you’ll typically need to demonstrate your subject knowledge and ability to get accepted. So, don’t let the absence of a degree hold you back if you’re interested in a specific postgrad program.
Apply to multiple courses.
Remember the golden rule: don’t put all your eggs in one basket. There are no strict rules on how many postgrad courses you can apply to, so why not increase your chances of getting accepted by applying to more than one? Just keep in mind that each application process can be lengthy and require some serious effort. Stick to similar courses to streamline the process and avoid overwhelming yourself.
Apply early, like really early.
Time is of the essence, my friend. For courses starting in September or October, you’ll need to submit your applications by June or July. We highly recommend applying at least six months in advance to give yourself ample time to sort out finances, accommodation, travel arrangements, and maybe even your visa. International students, this is especially crucial for you—plan four extra months in advance. Keep in mind that different courses have different start dates, so double-check with your course provider for specific deadlines.
It’s a different vibe from undergrad.
Get ready for a whole new postgrad experience, and it’s not like your undergrad days. One common feeling among postgrads is a sense of loneliness, at least initially. Many of your friends will have moved back home or entered full-time employment. Staying in touch might be a challenge due to different lifestyles and heavier workloads. Postgrad courses also tend to have fewer contact hours, and class sizes are smaller. Don’t expect the same hype and excitement of undergrad Fresher’s Week. But fear not! There are things you can do to combat the postgrad loneliness. Connect with your fellow students early on, attend any postgrad ice-breaker events organized by your university, and if those aren’t enough, plan your own social gatherings. Coffee meetings, study groups, or a casual evening with a glass of wine can be fantastic ways to bond with your peers.
Self-discipline is key.
Get ready to embrace your inner self-discipline guru! On a postgrad course, you’ll likely see your tutor only a couple of times a week, and even less during the dissertation period. That means you’ll have loads of time for private study. So, self-discipline becomes paramount for your success. If you’re the kind of person who needs external motivation, like a tutor pushing you, it might be a challenge to stay on top of your workload. But if you’re a self-sufficient individual who loves setting their own routine, this will be a breeze for you.
So there you have it, 11 nuggets of wisdom to help you prepare for your postgrad adventure. We hope these tips make your journey a little smoother. And hey, if you have any other tips of your own, we’d love to hear them! Good luck, future postgrad superstar!