It is that time of year again. The end of the academic year. Hundreds of thousands of graduates are flooding the job market and many will take the decision to avoid the ‘real world’ for a little while longer and will choose to go on to study at postgraduate level. Not knowing which direction to take next plays a huge role in what comes next.
Being submerged in studying during your final year and not relishing the thought of leaving the university bubble makes continuing study very appealing. Universities will be displaying posters in every available display space around tcampus highlighting what courses are available complete with biographies of postgraduates showing how valuable the courses were for them and how much more employable postgraduates are in comparison with undergraduates. What needs to be remembered is that higher education is now big business and students are customers thanks to student fees. So, of course, the postgraduate option is being sold as ‘the best thing since sliced bread’.
With hindsight, I do not believe studying for a masters degree was the best decision I have ever made. I loved university life and wanted to stay in that environment for as long as possible. I enjoyed studying and liked the idea of gaining a few more letters after my name. BA MSc has a nice ring to it! I didn’t fully appreciate the extent to which the postgraduate way of life was much less sociable and tutor lead than undergraduate study. Personal time management, research skills and critical thinking are vital at the higher level. Postgraduate study is for you if the idea of studying alone for hours on end doesn’t send shivers down your spine.
10 years after graduating I can see that my MSc hasn’t helped me to get my dream job. I spent 7 years in a customer service role that I was overqualified for and now am told that my super-duper MSc qualification is old and irrelevant. I have even been told by a recruiter it may not be worth putting on my C.V. Great! Especially considering I am still paying off student debt. I am not alone in that situation. Many of my university friends are working in jobs which are not at the salary level promised by their university marketing department.
Let me clarify, I learned many valuable transferable skills during my year of postgraduate study that will help in any future employment. However, in-depth knowledge of the Russian political system is not going to instantly qualify me for my dream job. The advice I often give to my student friends is to only progress to postgraduate level if it is a course that will help with your chosen future career path i.e. business, dentistry or law. Don’t do it simply because you are passionate about that subject. You would benefit more from volunteering for an organisation linked to a sector you want to work in. You would gain experience which would be desirable to employers, learn relevant skills in a workplace environment and have something worthwhile on your C.V.
If you do decide to take the plunge and progress to postgraduate level, don’t forget Words Angel can proofread your assignments!