3 Alarming Postgraduate Challenges All Students Need To Face
Getting a Master’s degree is not an easy walk in the park. You’ll be faced with many postgraduate challenges compared to your undergraduate experience. These challenges can be practical like finances, or internal such as procrastination.
Managing your finances
One of the biggest postgraduate challenges faced by students is managing their finances. Despite lasting less than an undergraduate degree, it doesn’t mean it is cheap. When you factor in tuition fees and expenses, your cost may seem very steep.
Finance is a common concern for all students. It may not be easy to make ends meet, but there are a few options to help your funding:
- Scholarships and Bursaries – Many universities offer a range of scholarships and bursary schemes to help cover the cost of tuition. These can be either needs-based, ethnicity/gender-based or merit-based. Make sure to see what the university offers and if you are eligible. Some universities also offer an alumni discount to students who completed an undergraduate degree at their institution, usually set at 10%.
- Student Loans – If you’re a UK citizen, you are eligible to apply for a government Master’s Loan. Although these loans have a repayment scheme, the amount you pay is based on your yearly earnings, you won’t pay until you surpass a threshold.
- Part-Time Work – Part-time work can be a really good source of income to cover your expenses, but more importantly, add valuable skills to your CV. The downside of a part-time role is that it will take a sizeable chunk of your time and add extra responsibility on top of your stressful degree. With some planning, time management and motivation, you can balance work and study without affecting your mental health
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For most students, a full-time Master’s is pretty intense, especially if you juggle employment too. It can easily wear you out, and looking after your mental health becomes less of a priority when you’re trying to consistently push out work. It also becomes worse when your ‘safe’ places become clustered with work and study.
To put it simply, you need to make a stress-free time and place to balance your mental health. These are some of the following you could try:
- Gym – The gym can be an excellent place to relieve some stress by channelling all your negative energy into a positive change. This could be from a simple run on a treadmill, swimming in a pool, hitting punching bags or even proving your strength on multiple weight machines. Alternatively, if you cannot afford to pay for a gym membership, running outside is a good way to keep fit on the cheap.
- Hobby – A hobby is something most people will dismiss. For some, it can be seen as either an expensive thing to fun or a waste of time. A hobby is an excellent way to distract your mind from reality. Whether this is gaming, reading a novel, carpentry, or others, a hobby is something you should feel excited about, and something where you can find potential new friends who share similar interests.
- Rest – Master’s degree usually lasts a year or 18 months. During this time, as well as juggling work with studying, time for yourself can be tight, or not possible. With the constant use of your brain, it can be really difficult to stay focused on a task. You must set yourself a reasonable time to sleep, and if possible, to nap. The happier your brain is, the happier you will be.
You should also take advantage of the universities mental health department. Most have specific student support services that can provide excellent in-person and online resources. Maintaining mental health is different for everyone. Make sure you check yourself and your needs regularly.
Most students often take a Master’s degree in hope of increasing their employability chances but to also progress further in their career path. A Master’s degree helps you not only advance your knowledge in a certain field but also refine your soft skills (ie communication, teamwork, time management) which are very important skillset employers look out for.
Other students look to take a Master’s because they enjoy their subjects, and not necessarily to improve their employability. Deciding where to progress after graduation can be very daunting, especially if things do not aline as well as you hoped for.
The best way to overcome this is to do some research. You may have decided you want a job, and the best way to find help is to talk with the universities career support team, where they will help you find the best way to make the most out of your degree. For others, you may decide to further your education in a specific field such as a PGCE or a PhD.
The good news is that the options are endless, the bad news is that we cannot tell you what to do post-graduation. Each person and circumstances are different, but one thing you should not do is give up!
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