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How to Deal With a Postgrad Workload After a Long Break

Going back to university to get a postgraduate degree after working for a while can be a big jump. But don’t fear, because it’s common to want to return to study after doing a traditional job – in fact, not very many postgraduate students go on to study at a postgraduate level straight after their undergraduate degree. You are certainly not alone in your quest for further education, which means there are people out there who can offer you important advice, like myself. As someone who had a two-year gap working between my undergraduate and postgraduate degrees, I know how hard the decision to return to university can be. Here’s some advice on how to get back on the academic path. 

Managing an Increased Workload 

Even if you’ve been working in a high-pressured job between your undergrad and postgrad, the workload and skill set needed to make the transition back to academic workload is likely to be very different to anything you’ve dealt with so far. 

On my first day back at university, I felt severely overwhelmed by how much I had to get done to the point that I thought I might panic. The best way to deal with the seemingly mounting pile in my mind was to compartmentalise the work and to make lists every day. 

Managing Your Time 

One of the biggest advantages to being an older student returning after working is that you’ll likely already be in a position where working set hours per day is the norm. Try and stick to those regular hours, because reverting back to a typical student cycle can be all too easy, and the consequences can be just as detrimental as it was in your undergraduate years, if not more so. 

This is because most postgrad courses hold similar working hours to that of a normal job in order to get you into the swing of it in time for getting a job after the course finishes. With that in mind, treat every day like it’s your regular 9-5 and you’ll do fine. 

Dealing With Being a 'Mature Student' 

You may well have to deal with being a bit older than your peers if you’ve taken a break from studying before starting your postgraduate course. In many ways, this is a great asset. No, really! 

Not only will you have knowledge from your undergraduate course, but you’ll have the additional knowledge you’ve learnt during your study break. From things you’ve read and discussions with friends and colleagues, the latest goings-on in that area to personal skills like communication and time management, to looking back at your undergrad years with hindsight and knowing what mistakes you made and how to avoid them. Ideal! 

Putting In the Extra Work 

Returning to study means going back to making schedules, doing extra reading and generally putting in extra work. In the short term this might seem hard and off-putting, but don’t let this change your mind about applying for a postgraduate degree. 

 As you go through your course, this preparation hassle will make things run smoother and allow you to enjoy the course. If you get used to the workload, you could even ask your course tutor for extra reading materials, which will help you to keep ahead of the work as well as making settling in much easier. 

Next: Read more postgraduate life advice

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