Returning to study after a period of work or travel can be a difficult transition, especially when you have become accustomed to a life without essay writing and reference checking. That being said, undertaking a course of postgraduate study is increasingly becoming the norm as graduates and seasoned workers turn to Master degrees to refine their skills, gain expertise in a specific area and get an edge in the modern workforce.
However, enrolling in postgraduate study isn’t a decision to be made lightly. You will most likely have to make significant changes to your lifestyle, especially if you have spent the last few years in full-time work. Before you embark on a return to study, let’s take a look at the pros and cons of adding a postgraduate qualification to your name.
Expand your skill set
Undertaking postgraduate study allows you to refine your current base of knowledge, or even expand your skills to specialise in a particular area of study. With such a varied range of Masters courses out there, you can even take postgraduate study as an opportunity to explore an area of academia that is totally different to what you studied in your undergraduate degree.
Qualification can set you apart
Having a postgraduate degree to your name has the potential to give you the edge over other workers in your field. Bachelor qualifications have become the norm rather than the exception in the modern labour market, so undertaking an additional graduate degree can provide you with greater standing in both the job hunt and your current workplace. Having a Master degree under your belt can also open you up to jobs that have better pay and greater opportunities to advance up the ranks.
Opens up networking doors
From your fellow students to your lecturers and tutors, there are plenty of networking resources you can develop during your postgraduate studies that perhaps weren’t as accessible in your undergraduate degree. Postgraduate courses tend to have much smaller cohorts than Bachelor level degrees, so it becomes easier to develop closer relationships with your professors, lecturers and tutors. Apart from being a great support during your studies, your teachers could also prove to be a valuable networking resource if you have excelled or shown capability during your degree. Many of your professors or lecturers will have presence in their industries, and they could open you up to some fantastic opportunities if you’re willing to put in the work.
Loss of wages
This is a tough pill to swallow, but a necessary truth to face if you are strongly considering a return to study. The financial loss won’t be such a big blow if you are planning to juggle work with part-time study, but you will almost definitely face a pay cut if you’re switching from full-time work to study. A postgraduate degree will also contribute a hefty amount to your HECS, so it is important to consider the financial costs before taking the plunge.
Life will become a constant juggle
This will especially ring true if you’re planning to combine work and study. You will need to find balance between important commitments to ensure you aren’t falling behind or underperforming in either of your worlds (easier said than done). Life can become pretty stressful when you’re trying to juggle multiple plates at once, so you need to make sure that you have the capacity to handle what will undoubtedly be a hectic time in your life.
May not be necessary
In some professions, relevant work experience holds more weight than a further qualification. Before signing up for more study, make sure that you won’t be wasting a couple of years and thousands of dollars on a degree you do not actually need to get ahead in your chosen field. Explore career advancement opportunities at your current company, or see if there are any short training courses you can complete to give you the skills you desire. If you are hoping to specialise in a niche area of a particular industry, that is when it is best to consider a Master degree.