How to Prepare for Postgraduate Study
Figuring out if you want to do a postgrad degree can be difficult, and there is a lot to consider once you make that decision. Choosing a course, planning for what you will need before and during your course, and preparing your finances, can all seem daunting, so we’ve put together our best advice to help you best prepare for your postgrad studies without being overwhelmed.
Choosing a Course
When you first start looking into courses for your postgrad, be sure to really compare courses across different universities to make sure that you find the course best suited for you. Decide on which modules sound the most interesting, but also remember to consider which modules will be the most useful if you’re hoping to go into a specific job sector with your postgrad degree.
A majority of postgrad courses are one year long, but there are some that are two years long for certain sectors so be certain of the duration of the courses you look into as this will effect the cost of your degree and how you plan for the short term. You can also choose to study a one-year course over the duration of two years as a sandwich course if you want to keep more time free for work or family whilst you study.
Online Options and Necessities
During the pandemic, many universities and students have been forced to convert to remote learning methods to appease restrictions and lockdowns. Although we are all hoping that the pandemic becomes manageable with the vaccines, be aware that you may have to learn remotely if restrictions increase again. Although most university campuses have still been allowing library access during higher restrictions, think about and plan your accessibility to online resources.
Remote learning is not necessarily a bad thing though, and there are ways to ensure you are making the most of it. For some students, the flexibility and ease of online classes may actually appeal more, and if you are one of these students, look into online classes for postgrad degrees. Some universities only offer online classes for certain courses but there are also universities that are aimed towards online classes so look around and see if any look relevant to what you want to study.
Plan, Plan, Plan!
Once you have finalised the university and course you would like to study, it’s time to plan out your next year (or two depending on your course). If you are moving to another city, factor in how much time you will have to travel and visit your hometown, family and friends. If there are any special days or weekends that you know you will want to visit, write them all down beforehand so that you can plan your studies and deadlines accordingly. This will be useful even if you aren’t moving away to study!
If you plan on working alongside studying, plan for how you will balance you work shifts with your classes and revision sessions. If you plan out your time, even vaguely if you know that you can’t stick to specific timings, it can help you to avoid getting overwhelmed once you’re in the heat of things. If you know any friends or relatives that have done a postgrad degree, talk to them about their experiences and see what advice they can give you – even if they did things differently to how you are planning to it’s good to get their perspective on things.
The best way to prepare for your chosen course, is to look up your course materials and try to get a head start on any readings you have to do. You don’t need to read and understand all the materials beforehand, but starting on something can give you some insight into what your course will be like, as well as help you decide whether it really is something that you find interesting or useful.
Find Financial Support
It is best to figure out and plan your finances before you start your course to avoid getting stressed out and overwhelmed when you should be focusing on your studies. If you are continuing your studies at a university you previously studied at, you will likely receive some alumni discounts or benefits, so keep that in mind when choosing your postgrad course. There are also scholarships and grants available for postgraduate students at many universities, but look into them carefully as these are often limited and therefore require specific requirements, or are quite competitive.
As with undergrad degrees, there are government loans available through Student Finance, however at postgrad level, these loans do not always cover the tuition fees for certain courses and the amount you’re eligible for will depend on your chosen university, course, and personal circumstances. The requirements for these loans also tend to be more strict, where you cannot apply for a postgraduate loan if you have previously taken one out, and the course you study must be a stand-alone, full course which is not funded at all by undergrad Student Finance.
More and more companies are offering private student loans in light of the rise in costs for further education and limited financial support options otherwise. Companies such as Lendwise will work with you to individually tailor the amount you will need over the duration of your course, as well as a repayment method and period that works best with your financial profile and circumstances. This appeals to students who would like to fully focus on their studies without the stress of worrying about finances or trying to balance work and studying.