Questions to Ask Yourself BEFORE You Commit to Postgraduate Study

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Published by Gianna Oddo
on 30/09/2019

Am I ready?

The question is not as simple as ‘Can I commit the next couple of years of my life to my studies?’. You need to ask yourself, ‘Am I ready for everything that comes with pursuing a postgraduate degree?’. When you think of getting your Masters or PhD, you’re usually thinking about the day you can tell people you finally obtained your degree. People often forget the hard work you have to put in to reach that day. It is easy to forget about the long nights and frustrations that you will face, or having to buckle down and continuously decide to put your studies first. It’s difficult to determine if this is what you want, but once you do it’s easy to balance work, studies and free time. If you’re ready and following something that you’re passionate about, you’re able to accomplish anything.

Am I pursuing my passion?

When someone asks you about your intended field of study, does your face light up with a smile and you just cannot help but tell them everything you know? Or does the very idea make you sick to your stomach, having to study for another few years? More importantly, what feelings are invoked within you when someone asks you this question? It doesn’t have to be black and white, and realistically it could be a mixture of the two, but it’s essential to tell yourself the truth.

Think about your future career; is your chosen course going to help you get that dream job or are you simply so passionate about your subject that you want to continue studying? If you’re not passionate about your studies, then you might want to take a step back and consider your options before you commit. Ask yourself if the idea of specialising in your specific field fills you with dread or joy.

Have I taken time to consider what this commitment means?

There are many things to consider when deciding to study a postgraduate degree. Many graduate schools come with a hefty price tag. Whilst many universities try to help the best they can, sometimes you have to take out loans, especially if you leave your home town or country. If you are an International student, this is something to consider since tuition always differs from that of a home student. It’s essential to take this into consideration when applying because student debt does affect your future.

Tip: Contact the University and ask for all the financial advice available to help you succeed as a postgraduate student. There is also a searchable database on the website.

What professional opportunities will it open?

Research the potential job opportunities in your chosen field. There are graduate jobs that do not ask for anything higher than a bachelor’s degree. The case could be that once you obtain all the degrees that you might be overqualified for the positions you’re applying for. Or while you were in school, you were not able to acquire enough work experience. So it’s imperative to understand what the requirements are for your chosen field and how obtaining your degrees will open up more doors.

What University will support me and prepare me for life afterwards?

According to Webometrics.com there are 28,077 universities around the world. That is an insane number (most students try to get into the top 100!). There are thousands of schools to consider that might make an excellent environment for you. When deciding where you want to go to expand your knowledge, it is important to consider not just the boundaries you are familiar with but to research what school will support your field of interest and your needs.

Forget about going to the best of the best for a second. If the University you want to go to checks all the boxes, then it might be right for you even if it’s not the #1 University.

Have I taken the time to think this through?

If you decided last night that you want to do a postgraduate degree and the deadline is tomorrow, I would say this year might not be your year. Take some time to think it over. Deciding to apply to for a postgraduate degree should not be a spur of the moment thing, but something you’ve really considered. It should never be a substitute because you don’t know what you want to do with your life (that’s what a gap year is for!) or because you feel pressured into it. Instead, it should be a decision that you are 100% sure and confident in.

If a postgraduate degree is your next step, then enjoy and remember: YOU GOT THIS!

Gianna has just graduated in MA in English Literature and Culture.