Busting Myths About Postgraduate Study

19 Apr 2024, 16:05

Image for Busting Myths About Postgraduate Study

I was initially hesitant about the prospect of postgraduate study. Following the completion of my undergraduate degree, I felt lost. Many of my classmates had started to pursue careers related to our area of study, and I wasn’t sure that was the route I wanted to go. I decided to book an appointment with DCU’s career service, hoping for guidance on my next steps. We explored some career prospects, my interests and passions, and my concerns for the future. During this meeting, the option of pursuing a postgraduate degree was first raised. Immediately, I was struck by several fears and worries about my capabilities and whether pursuing a postgraduate degree meant pigeonholing myself into a defined path. Luckily, the careers service was fantastic at tackling these concerns, and I applied and subsequently completed my first of two postgraduate degrees at DCU. These experiences helped bust a few of the myths I initially held about postgraduate study, and hopefully, I can help others facing the same concerns.

Myth #1: Postgraduate degrees are too challenging academically

While it’s true that postgraduate degrees require a higher level of academic engagement, the course coordinators of these degrees understand the trepidation students can experience. Each module had clear guidelines and tips for approaching classes and assignments, including expected workloads, weekly tasks to ensure you stay on track, and seminars designed to improve your academic writing, citing, and presenting skills. Not only are these considerations factored into the design of the degrees, but there are also a considerable amount of university-level resources explicitly designed to help with this. One resource I valued during my degree was the Writing Centre. They provide a huge amount of online resources and seminars to guide you in your writing and studying, along with the opportunity to book 1:1 appointments where you can get advice on specific assignments. Remember that your lecturers and professors want you to succeed and gain as much value as possible; these degrees are designed with that in mind.

Myth #2: I’ll struggle to balance my study and personal life

I have completed two postgraduate degrees since that appointment with the careers service, one as a full-time student and one as a full-time employee and part-time student. While each brought unique challenges, postgraduate degrees are designed to work around the humans undertaking them. The module coordinators provided plenty of advance warning regarding assignment or presentation due dates, allowing me to appropriately manage the workload alongside my personal and work life. Again, DCU offers terrific resources to help you manage a healthy and balanced lifestyle during your studies. These range from workshops on time management and procrastination from the student support teams, fantastic counselling services, and online modules to help with organisational skills. My top tip on finding balance is to treat every day as a fresh start, ensuring you are mindful of your capacity and that each day has a healthy mix of studying, seeing friends, and caring for your well-being.

Myth #3: Pursuing a postgraduate degree will limit my career flexibility

I was initially nervous that by pursuing a more specialised degree, I would be locking myself into one field of study or a specific career path. This perception couldn’t have been further from the truth. Not only did I have the option to choose from a broad range of modules within each course tailored to my interests and goals, but I also gained strong skills applicable to any career path. These ranged from improving my critical thinking skills, learning how to work efficiently independently and in groups, to disseminating information appropriately in different settings. The skills I gained were invaluable when I entered my professional career, and empowered me to confidently pursue diverse job opportunities. From an industry perspective, post-graduate qualifications are increasingly recognised for their versatility, both by increasing individuals’ expertise in specific areas and by fostering skills applicable to all types of careers. Finally, the network you gain through a postgraduate degree is hugely valuable and can open doors in directions you might not anticipate.

Myth #4: Postgraduate education is financially out of reach for me

The final myth I believed was that postgraduate education was not financially feasible for me. While pursuing an advanced degree can often involve additional expenses, including tuition fees and living costs, various funding options are available to help mitigate the financial burden. I was fortunate enough to be pointed in the right direction by the Careers service, which allowed me to research and plan a route to make this a manageable option. The options included government-backed grants (e.g., the SUSI grant), scholarship opportunities, and part-time jobs designed with students in mind. During my second period of study, my employer offered a tuition reimbursement program, which solidified my decision to enter the academic world again. DCU also offers additional financial services for anyone experiencing hardship and has a wealth of resources available to help students with these concerns.

In conclusion, postgraduate study holds immense potential for anyone hoping to further their education and advance their careers. I’m hoping that by debunking some of the common myths and misconceptions, I can encourage more people to explore the possibility of postgraduate study and make informed decisions about the opportunities available to them. Whether it's by pursuing a master’s degree, a PhD, or advanced qualifications, postgraduate study offers a pathway for personal and professional growth and fulfilment, and a vast amount of resources are available to help make this a realistic path for you

People reading this also searched for roles in these areas:

undefined background image

We've got you

Get the latest jobs, internships, careers advice, courses and graduate events based on what's important to you. Start connecting directly with top employers today.