Now that you’ve graduated from your undergrad, you’re probably getting ready to head out into the big wide world of work!… or not. If you’ve decided to pursue your academic interests further, either because you have big aspirations or you can’t let go of student life just yet, you’ll be heading into the exciting world of postgraduate study.
Postgraduate and undergrad might not seem that different, but your academic life will shift in certain ways, something you should bear in mind. So, here’s everything you can expect when you become a postgraduate student, and how to deal with the change.
More Independent Study
Your study habits will change as you progress into postgraduate study. A lot of postgrads find that late-night starts just don’t cut it anymore and their studying and academic work starts during the day. In fact, many PhD students treat their studies like a full-time job, doing their work from nine to five, Monday to Friday, like a standard office job.
Amongst all this work, you’ll find that a lot of it is self-driven. Whilst you’ll have a supervisor to guide you through the process, they won’t offer you a step-by-step guide; you’ll be expected to undertake a lot of self-study and figure things out for yourself.
Less Financial Help (Possibly)
Depending on whether you manage to get funding from an institution or organisation, you may find that you have to stretch your budget further during postgraduate study. The Student Loans Company currently offers a ten-grand loan for Master’s students, but this may only just cover your tuition fee, depending on the course you’re studying, not leaving much leftover to live on.
When considering postgraduate study, you will have to consider the costs carefully. Some universities offer a reduced tuition rate for their Master’s courses if you have an undergraduate degree from them. Otherwise, you could try to secure funding from other institutions who would be willing to fund your research.
More Studious Peers
During your undergrad, you may have found that a lot of people didn’t take their degree very seriously, or that they didn’t care very much about the subject they were studying. At postgraduate level, you may still encounter these kinds of students, but a significant majority will be more studious and care about what they’re studying, as well as the work they’re doing. You’d hope anyone going to the trouble of becoming a Doctor in a subject actually has an interest in the subject matter.
Shorter or Longer Length of Time
A Masters is one year, and a PhD often leans closer to four years when you take into account all the time required to write up a thesis. Either way, it’s a different experience than the three years it likely took you to complete your undergrad. It might not be a huge adjustment, but something to bear in mind and to consider how long it will be until you graduate and get a job.
Experiences at a New Institution
If you did your entire undergrad at one university, you might be anxious to gain new experiences at a different institution. Postgrads are a great way to do this, as you don’t have to stick to the university you attended for undergrad. Every university is different, and it could feel exactly like starting it all over again. Be calm, be yourself, and we’re certain you’ll have a great time. Attending a different institution also allows you to meet new people and make new, important connections that you otherwise may not have been able to make.
Alternatively, there’s nothing wrong with sticking to what you know and taking your postgrad at the university you just graduated from. There are benefits to familiarity, after all.
Contact with Academic Staff
As an undergrad, you may never have had a one-to-one meeting with a tutor, preferring to tackle your work by yourself – or never being up in time for their early morning office hours – but, as a postgrad, you’ll probably rub shoulders with them more often. You will have frequent one-to-one meetings with staff and will have the chance to get to know them better. If you’re doing a PhD, you may end up becoming good friends with your supervisor.
Large Word Counts
If you thought your undergrad dissertation was difficult, wait until you have to write your thesis. Word counts will vary dependent on course type but be assured that postgrads are expected to create much longer pieces of work. Granted, you will have much more time to work on this long piece of work compared to your undergrad essays, but it’s still quite a hefty academic undertaking.
Longer Study Hours
Depending on how focused you were as an undergraduate student, this may not be a huge change for you. But, in all likelihood, you will end up spending more hours of the day studying as a postgrad. This is something to bear in mind as it will likely affect your social life, as you may have to decline more invitations to social events in lieu of studying than you’re probably used to.
If you’re progressing into postgraduate study, we wish you the very best of luck with your academic endeavours. For all your student accommodation needs, take a look at the range of fantastic rooms CityBlock have available. We can offer you outstanding postgraduate accommodation in Durham, Lancaster and Reading.