Your Postgrad Checklist

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Whether you’ve made a decision to go down the postgraduate route or find yourself browsing postgraduate courses online, there is plenty to consider in order for you to be able to make the most out of your postgraduate study experience.

Finances

These are likely to be paramount when it comes to your final postgrad checklist. If you’re working part-time while doing your postgrad, assess the extra likely money that your studies are likely to consume in terms of travel, subsistence, miscellaneous expenses, books etc. It’s very important that you plan for the impact that your study will have on your finances. On the flip side, you may find that you need to take on a part-time job in order to fund your postgraduate study. What sort of job can you take on that will give you the latitude to also focus on your studies? If you have a job that is quite restrictive in terms of hours, have you considered distance learning for your postgrad? Fees are always an issue too for postgraduate students so have you visited the SUSI website to see if you might be eligible for fee contributions or some level of support. Remember, postgraduate students are not currently eligible for maintenance grants from SUSI.

The Right Course

If you’re still debating whether to take this course, or that course, or another course has caught your eye…it’s time to stop and reset. You need to consider your course from a few very practical standpoints.

1: Do you have a clear job or career path that this course will allow you to embark upon?

2: Does this course deliver a professional qualification applicable to this job or career path?

3: Is this course delivered in a way that you can commit to in terms of your other personal commitments?

4: Essentially, is the course you are doing the right course for your career or is it a course you ‘want’ to do? Remember, further study for the sake of it is very rarely the right option.

The Right Structure

One of the great things about postgraduate study these days is that it is so accessible to so many students due to courses being taught on a full-time, part-time or distance learning basis. Choosing the right course is no good to you if you don’t have the time for the course structure, so make sure you put this amongst the first and foremost things to consider when choosing your course.

Prepare for the workload

In addition to balancing the financial books for your postgraduate study experience, you’ll need to balance your workload in terms of study, work and all else that you may have going on in your life. Are there personal or family commitments that you cannot readily give up or be flexible around? In terms of the course workload, have you talked to others that have done the course, or a similar course? Ask them what it involved and see what lessons you can learn.

It’s going to be rewarding, but it’s going to be difficult

Most postgraduate students say that one of the biggest surprises they encounter when pursuing further study is the intensity of the workload, and how much it differs to that which they encountered during their undergraduate degree. You’re taking on a whole new educational framework at a higher level, so you mustn’t underestimate the commitment that will be involved. Of course, if you have a real passion for the areas and the subjects you will likely get great personal satisfaction from the experience but do your level best to get ahead of the curve in terms of the course workload where possible. You may have fewer assignments at postgraduate level but they will be more intensive and more demanding. If you’re pursuing the course on a distance learning basis you may have more flexibility when it comes to assignments but if you start letting several deadlines slip you will find yourself confronting a very large workload, very quickly. Don’t procrastinate and stay on top of the work.

Prepare by asking for help

Your careers service and university alumni network can provide you with a host of supports as you prepare for postgraduate life. Schedule an appointment with your careers service and explain to them what you hope to get out of a particular course and ask for their advice as to whether they think it’s the right move for you to make. As professionals, their job is ultimately to find you a job, so they will make any judgements with your career and wellbeing in mind and their advice can be invaluable.

 


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