If you’re considering doing a postgrad degree, it could be for a myriad of reasons; to gain more knowledge in your chosen subject, a necessity for the career you want to pursue, or to specialise in specific topics or paths. Another common reason, is if you feel discontented in your current job or career path and want to use a postgrad degree to change careers or even move into a different job sector completely.
If the last reason is your main motivation for pursuing postgrad studies, don’t be scared! Change can be a good thing, especially if you feel stagnant, and we’ve put together our best advice to help you switch careers without feeling overwhelmed.
Finding the Right Course
Whether or not you have an idea of what career you want to switch to, it’s important to research all options available to you to ensure you pick a course that will be both interesting and useful to you. If it is useful but not very interesting, you may struggle to motivate yourself to complete your readings and research. Likewise, if it is interesting you will enjoy the course more, but you want to make sure it will actually help you to enter the job sector you want.
If you have a specific career in mind that you are picking the postgrad degree for, look into whether there are any specific modules or topics that fall into the job requirements, and look for courses that include those modules. Similarly, look at the entry requirements for your chosen course; does it have any pre-requisites that you need to complete first, and is there any way that you can use your previous work experience or studies to get around any minor requirements?
Preparing for a Change in Lifestyle
If you are moving from a working lifestyle back to a studying lifestyle, you may need to mentally prepare yourself for this change. Many postgrad students struggle with this adjustment, especially if they have gotten used to a certain amount of income and have established a daily and social routine. On one hand, you may have more free time at various points of the week if your course does not have a lot of contact hours, but as deadlines approach and the course intensifies, you may be spending all of your free time studying and completing assignments and this won’t be limited to office hours.
You may have become accustomed to working from home during the pandemic if you were able to work remotely and are not a key worker, in which case you know the importance of having a space set aside just for work and studies separate to where you relax. Keep in mind that you may have to learn remotely if restrictions are still in place, and studying from home is not quite the same as working from home.
Making the Most of a Postgraduate Degree
Although you will likely be focusing a majority of your time on your studies, keep an eye out for other opportunities that you can look for and take advantage of for after you complete your degree. Try to make connections with your fellow students where you are able, to build your network with like-minded scholars who will likely go into the same or a similar field as you.
Speaking of building networks, talk to your professors, and if your university has a careers team for students talk to them as well, to see if there are any alumni in the career you want to pursue that you can contact. You can also see if there are any graduate jobs or internships that are open for postgrad students, or any that are specific to your course or degree. Keep in mind that these applications often open earlier in the year, so you don’t want to wait until right before summer and find out that all application deadlines have already passed.
Figuring out Finances
Financial support can be a bit more complicated for postgrad degrees compared to undergrad, but there are options available to help you out. A lot of universities do offer scholarships and grants, but these often require specific requirements to be met, or have limited spaces and therefore can be quite competitive. If you enjoyed studying at your previous university, it is also worth looking into whether their version of your chosen course appeals to you, and what alumni benefits or discounts you would get for choosing it.
Student Finance also offers government loans for postgrad, however these loans do not always cover the tuition fees for certain courses and the amount you’re eligible for will depend on your chosen course, university, and personal circumstances. Furthermore, If you have previously taken out a postgrad loan from the government, you will not be allowed to apply for the loan again, and your chosen course must be a full, stand-alone course which is not funded by undergrad Student Finance.
If you require financial support and do not want to be balancing a hectic study and work schedule to stay afloat, you can apply for a private student loan. 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. These private loans can be easily applied for and ensure that you can focus on working towards your next career without having to worry or stress about your immediate finances.