Should You Do Postgraduate Studies?
I recently decided to go back to university to study a master’s degree, more than ten years after finishing my undergraduate degree. Scary, I know!
This was a difficult decision to make because there are no guarantees that this is the right thing to do. I struggled with it because a degree is such a huge investment of both time and money. It was really important for me to consider a few things before making my decision. Here are three things I’d recommend thinking about before you make any postgraduate study decisions.
1. What do you want to study?
For me, I have always been fascinated by learning. More specifically how individuals learn, how the brain facilitates this, and how educators can use this knowledge to design learning experiences. Hence why I’ll be studying Educational Psychology.
Really try to put into words your reasoning for going back to study, and ensure this actually matches with what the course will be teaching. There were so many Masters of Education courses, but I picked my specific one because of the psychology focus. I then went to a postgraduate information evening and talked to the academics to confirm my thoughts. You don’t want to start a degree and realise what you’re learning does not match your expectations.
2. Why do you want to study?
One reason might be because you need it to get into a certain profession, a specific job, or a promotion. If this is your answer, make sure it is actually correct. Many people make this assumption, then after studying, realise that this it’s not the case and have regrets. Validate your assumption by talking to multiple people in the industry. Only speaking to one person is just an opinion, not necessarily a fact.
However for me, my master’s degree isn’t to make a career change or for a specific promotion. This made my decision even more difficult, because it won’t likely bring me any financial benefits straight away. Yes it is related to what I do, and will help me do it better. I truly want to learn about this topic and I’m a big believer in lifelong learning and development. Both reasons are valid, learning or career progression, just make sure you know why you want to do it.
3. Can you afford it?
As I’ve said this is a huge investment of both time and money. Do you have the time needed for the classes, readings and assignments? Can you bank roll it? Majority of postgraduate studies will be full fee paying. Yes, there might be some Commonwealth sponsored places, but I wouldn’t count on it. I’d suggest seeing if you can get any support from your current employer, if not money, maybe some study leave. And keep in mind that the course fees won’t be the only cost.You’ll have textbooks, stationary, student unions, etc. I hired a great accountant who is helping me understand what I can claim to bring down my taxable income, which really does help.
You can never know what the future might hold. This study may get you that job, or promotion, career change, or something else entirely.
But you can consider your financial and time constraints, and whether you really need, or want, to study the content.
There is no such thing as a right or wrong decision. You get to choose your thoughts, and in the future, you get to decide your thoughts about the past. It is your choice to decide if the decision was right or wrong. You are in charge of your thoughts, and your choices. Simply ask yourself:
Do I really want to do this?
I am looking forward to being a student again, with the opportunity to learn and develop. For many people postgraduate studies are an excellent way to make a career change without having to go back to a full length undergraduate course.
For me, I am confident this will open doors in my future and enable me to feel credible in an area I am passionate. Whether I start my own business, continue into academia, or progress in my current field, these studies will support my next career step. So, think about what your possible next career steps are and if additional study will support you.
Feature image courtesy of Unsplash.
First published by author on LinkedIn
By Nicole Papworth
Nicole Papworth is a career coach with almost 10 years’ experience working with students and graduates starting out their careers. She spent time in large corporate banks, consulting and accounting companies studying who they hired and why. Nicole now uses this knowledge to help UTS students figure out their career ambitions and start achieving them.