It’s fairly common to want to return to study after a working break, in fact very few postgraduate students go straight from uni. But going from the working world to the classroom can be a big jump. Here’s how to get back on the academic path...
As someone who had a two year gap working between my undergraduate and postgraduate degree I know how hard the decision to return to university can be. Here are some of my tips from my own experiences...
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 compartmentalize 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.
So 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 to your course and grades 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. So treat every day like it’s your regular 9-5 and you’ll have the advantage over course mates who aren’t used to the daily grind.
Dealing With Being a 'Mature Student'
It might make you cringe (I certainly did) when you realise that some of your course mates were dancing to a whole different tune in their youth than you were. So one of the facts you’ll be faced with if you’ve taken a break from study before starting your postgraduate course is you may well be quite a bit older than your peers. But in many ways this is a great asset!
Not only will you have knowledge from your undergraduate course, but you’ll have 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.
And if you ever find yourself struggling on your course, why not ask your course mates for help in areas you might find tough in exchange for a bit of tutelage in your own expertise?
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 postgrad course!
As you go through your course this preparation malarkey starts to make things run more smoothly, and allows you to really enjoy the course and your decision. As you get used to the workload you can even start to ask your course tutor for extra reading materials, this will help you to keep ahead of the work as well as making settling in much easier.
Next Step: Applying for a Postgraduate Course
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