Are you ready for more assignments?
As simple as it sounds, it’s something we can forget to think about when we’re so focused on deciding on a course and university. If you’re studying a master’s that is less related to your undergraduate degree, then bear in mind that this could be more challenging. Don’t let this put you off though. Planning ahead and accessing the reading lists prior to your course commencing will give you a solid head-start.
But if the thought of writing another essay or dissertation does fill you with dread, then you might want to re-evaluate. It’s easy to presume that a master’s is a natural extension of your undergraduate degree, but they remain distinct for a reason.
Consider taking a break first
If you know a master’s is for you, then go ahead and jump straight in! But for those of you who might be unsure about this, then taking some time away from education can be invaluable in making an informed decision. Use your time away from education to gain practical experience in the different fields you’re considering. This will help you to decide whether it’s the right course for you, whilst additional work experience for your CV will never go amiss.
As well as which, many employers look favourably upon those who took a break before embarking on further education. Someone who has thought properly about their career choice is much more attractive to employers than someone who has jumped straight into a master’s with little thought or foresight. It’s easy to get caught up in the fast-paced world we’re living in. Remember that slowing down to reflect on your choices is more than ok.
England isn’t the only place to study!
Whilst Brexit negotiations continue to drag on, studying at one of the many well-recognised institutions abroad is still an attractive option. Studying abroad can be a life-changing decision. Not only will it allow you to learn about a new culture, but it may also be the perfect opportunity to become more fluent in a language of interest. This, alongside your studies, could open up a world of opportunities in the future. Both the Netherlands and Spain are popular destinations, with Spain offering particularly low tuition fees in comparison to the UK. Nevertheless, you will need to do your research. Neither of these countries provides loans to cover living costs, and so you will need to think practically about how you could finance this. transferwise.com offers a brilliant guide to living costs in Spain, whilst prospects.ac.uk have all the information you will need if you’re considering studying abroad.
Concerned about finances? Consider living at home
If you’re prepared to stay at home whilst you study, then you could be saving yourself a lot of money. With that said, course content can vary a great deal in different master’s. You will need to consider whether a local institution is providing the right course for you. Bear in mind that commuting to university from home may change your university experience too. Some people may feel less integrated into the university if living at home. For others, it may not be an issue. Everyone will want different things from their experience, but make sure you’ve thought it through properly.
Do your research
Whichever way you look at it, a master’s is a big financial investment. You want to know that the time, money and effort will be worth it in the long run. In the competitive job market, employers are just as interested in your practical work experience as they are your academic. Consider whether your specific master’s is providing this. Luckily, many universities are now trying to integrate placements and work experience options into their courses. If your course doesn’t offer something like this, then decide whether you would feel happier getting this experience before or after your master’s. As well as this, it’s also worth thoroughly investigating the job industries you’re interested in. For some, such as the third sector, it’s becoming increasingly common to require a master’s. It might be a worthwhile investment.
Your research will need to take many different forms. The internet will most likely be your first port-of-call, but attending open days and speaking to academics will be vital too. You can also use platforms like LinkedIn to reach out to other people who have studied the same course. It’s helpful in getting an honest opinion on what it was like.
Part-time or full-time? Distance learning or classroom based?
Remember that studying full-time is not the only option. If you’d like to maintain a job whilst you study, then a part-time course might be for you. Working in a job can help finance your studies more easily, whilst balancing a job and master’s will also be evidence to future employers that you are capable of good time management and multitasking. Some employers may even be open to helping finance your course if it’s relevant to the job you’re in. However, balancing both can be difficult, and you need to feel confident that you can cope with the challenges this may bring.
A final word…
With all this said, a master’s can be a brilliant way to expand your knowledge, network, enhance your career prospects, and even make a career change. Nevertheless, you will need to ensure you have done as much research as possible before committing. It can be very tempting to jump into further education straight after an undergraduate degree- particularly if you’re feeling the post- university blues, or unsure of what you want to do with your life. But doing a master’s as a way to ‘kill time’ can be a very expensive option. Instead, it’s far more commendable to take your time, secure relevant work experience, and ensure you make the right decision for you.