Considering further study? Here are some things to think about along the way...
Why choose further study?
There are many reasons for deciding to continue your studies. It could be to gain an industry-recognised qualification or to continue studying a subject you are enthusiastic about. A postgraduate course is a big commitment (financially and time-wise) so take the time to think about your reasons and research into your options to make sure you make the best decision. Here are some things that you should think about:
Will it improve your chances?
Postgraduate study does not guarantee you a job. If you’re taking the course to improve your chances of entering a particular industry, look at current job descriptions for the sort of roles you want to apply for in the future to see if they specify that a postgraduate qualification is required, and find out what subjects they prefer. You can also find this information out by talking to those working in the industry.
Is the area right for you?
Get work experience related to the area you are applying to. Not only do you need to make sure that your chosen career is right for you, but you will also gain valuable practical experience that will make you more employable when you graduate.
How will you fund it?
The reality is that securing funding can be very difficult, so many students will take out loans and also work to fund their studies. Part-time study may be worth considering if there is no funding available. It could be a chance to spread the cost and work part-time to cover your living expenses. Thoroughly research the fees and likely living costs. Some universities may offer scholarships and have further details about other sources of funding that previous students have successfully secured. Investigate potential funding options early, as deadlines can be early. The Prospects graduate study website also has a large amount of information on sources of funding.
What course will be best for you?
Think about what’s important to you when choosing where to study, e.g. reputation, facilities and whether the course is accredited/recognised by a professional body. Attend open days to speak to the teaching staff and students who have taken the course. Postgraduate study is much more specialised than an undergraduate degree. The form of examination may be different, there may be fewer lectures or seminars and the cohort of students may be smaller. The academic year is also longer and commonly runs from September to September. Attend open days, speak to lecturers and previous students to understand what to expect before making a decision.
Normally you will be required to send an application form or CV outlining your academic record and research interests, along with both academic and employment references. Most will require a personal statement demonstrating your motivation for choosing the course, and previous experiences etc. You will apply to each university directly, rather than through a central system like UCAS. Some courses may have an early deadline if they are particularly popular, so take care to allow yourself enough time. Book an appointment with a Careers Consultant for feedback on applications, CVs and cover letters, or to attend a mock interview.