At the end of university, there are a wide variety of options open to you, jobs, graduate schemes, travelling, and further education. This last option is getting more and more popular. I am going to discuss the thoughts that need to go in to when deciding on doing a masters degree. The reason for this becoming considerably more popular is because the job market is becoming increasingly competitive. Having a masters can set you apart from other candidates and can also increase your earning potential. However, masters degrees themselves are expensive and require a big commitment. This is why you need to be sure if you are going to do one.
Masters can cost up to £12000 for a year and unlike other years at university you only receive one payment of £10000, this needs to cover your tuition fees as well as any other expenses you may have. You need to have an honest discussion with yourself about your finances. Accommodation, food, study materials all need to be factored in as well as some socialising money. Now you shouldn’t let money put you off, but you need to be aware of your situation, so it doesn’t come as a shock later. The best way to do this is to create a spreadsheet of all your costs so you can add them all up. Don’t minimise your costs either, be honest or be definite that you can restrict yourself dramatically.
To help this problem, look at scholarships offered that the university/universities you are applying too offer and ensure you apply fast and properly. This will help you with a bit of extra money whether that’s money for accommodation or not. However, scholarships are not a guarantee so the best way to ensure you have a little bit of money to fallback on is to get a job. This doesn’t mean you need to work during your masters, but the summer before, you could throw yourself into a job and find a couple of grand. If you’ve never worked before you will be surprised by how much you can earn and subsequently save.
Are you sure?
When applying for a masters, you need to really think about why you are. If you are looking for a career change or to make sure you stand out from the crowd, brilliant! However, if you are applying for a masters in the same subject that you studied your undergraduate in and at the same university, double check your reasons. If you love your subject and want to stay at your university, it is a perfect plan. However, an awful lot of undergraduates do this because they don’t know what’s coming next and they don’t know what they want to do.
This is a completely acceptable situation but a masters is an intense commitment, don’t do it for the wrong reasons. Make sure you sit down with your tutor or a careers advisor and discuss in detail what you want to do. Even if you don’t know, they may be able to point you in a direction that will appeal. However, don’t just waste a year of your life because at the end of your masters year you will be facing the same issue, what to do next?
This can be a daunting prospect; however, you will not be alone in doing this, many other postgraduates will be moving too. However, it is an extra stress so do think carefully about moving either further away from where you are now. All the fears that you had at the start of your university life can come back. Whilst you should remember that this is completely normal and it shouldn’t deter you if you are going to do a masters for the right reasons.
Starting a new subject at university can be a good decision as after 3 years doing one subject you probably want to mix it up a bit or maybe you have a clearer career plan so you know more what you want to do. One career path that often becomes clearer over time is that of journalism. A surprising amount of journalists have a masters degree in journalism but an undergraduate degree in something else entirely. This doesn’t mean that they wasted their other degree just that they were able to clarify their journey.
No one can tell you whether to do a masters degree or not, it varies from person to person whether it’s the right decision. However, if you are passionate about your subject and don’t know what to do next then there’s no harm in doing a masters, there is no hard or fast rule about who’s going to do one. Deep down you probably know if doing a masters is the right choice for you or not.
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