After enrolling for postgraduate study, it is crucial to prepare before you begin your course. Prepare for your online degree success and your transition to online learning alongside the rest of your schedule will run smoothly. Here we share seven tips to help you prepare for postgraduate study:
1. Have the right mindset
This is your postgraduate degree. It's a commitment you're making to improve yourself and further your career. You will be under a lot of pressure, particularly if you continue to work a full-time job and/or have family commitments. But, it's also a really exciting opportunity that will help you take a big step towards realising your full potential. The course content will push you to think in new or different ways. Plus, you'll become part of a global community of students where you have the opportunity to make lifelong friends and business associates. It's important to go into your online degree being realistic about the commitment of 10-15 hours per week. It may be a good idea to write down your motivations for undertaking postgraduate study. Then make it visible within your study area, perhaps putting it up on the wall, so that if it does get tough, you have a reminder of what you're working so hard for.
2. Create a place to study
Once you start your course, you'll need a dedicated space to study. You might have a home office already, or you could think about converting a space in your bedroom or finding a quiet corner in your home for a desk. It doesn't really matter where you study, as long as you're not going to be disturbed. If it's not possible to study at home, think about places locally that you could visit. The library and coffee shops are always popular with professionals looking to get some work done on the go. Or many co-working spaces allow you use of their facilities with a dedicated desk for a small monthly fee. It's worth looking to see what's available in your area and identifying suitable places to study before your course starts.
3. Plan your schedule
In a week you have 168 hours available - it may be useful to plan how you spend your time. Here is an example of the way time may be distributed in a typical week:
- 40 hours: work.
- 10 hours: average commute.
- 56 hours: sleep.
- 17 hours: eating.
- 15 hours: dedicated time with family or friends.
- 10-15 hours: study.
There's a lot of demands on your time, and unless you get organised and schedule your time, something important is going to be dropped or forgotten. With your studies, you'll be given your assignment deadlines well in advance so you can plan them and allow yourself sufficient time to complete them.
4. Be smart
Take advantage of the opportunity to get ahead with your studies whenever possible. Knowing you have some 'time in the bank' takes the pressure off and allows you room to dedicate enough time to each assignment, rather than rushing to pull an all-nighter at the last second. Why not talk to your boss to see if they'll support you with your studies? A lot of employers today recognise the value in their employees enrolling on a master's degree, and several are even prepared to fund all/part of it. Your boss might agree to give you time during your working week to study. If you've worked continuously for the same employer for the last 26 weeks, you're legally allowed to request flexible working arrangements, such as working from home, compressed hours or flexitime, which might suit you better while you’re studying.
5. Talk about your studies
While studying for your online degree is all about your future, don't forget that there are other stakeholders in that future - your partner, your children, other family and friends. Setting expectations around your availability and when you need to study is so important for gaining your loved ones' support, rather than causing friction at home.
6. Check in with yourself
If you have been in the professional world for a few years, it's likely that you've got to know your working strengths and weaknesses pretty well. As part of your course, it may be that you want to work on improving some of these - for example, if you know you're quick to jump to a resolution and stubborn about changing your opinion, you can use your course as a way of addressing this soft skill by ensuring you make the time to listen to the opinions of your cohorts. Studying an online degree, you'll be exposed to a global community, all with different working styles and cultural perspectives. It's a wonderful opportunity to hone your soft skills, which are so highly valued by employers.
7. Get ready to write
For each module, you will be required to write a detailed assignment to show your understanding of the subject and demonstrate critical thinking. One area that often surprises postgraduate students is the writing style, since it's very different to how you would write in your job or at home. Plus, you need to reference your work correctly if you want to secure top marks. At the University of Bath, our online MSc courses are designed to help you build the real-world skills to evolve your career. Discover more about our courses today, or fill in the form below to request information.