What I Wish I Knew Before Starting My Master’s Degree
Bridging the gap from undergraduate to postgraduate study can be daunting, whether you’ve got just a summer or years in between. Reflecting upon my first semester at the University of Manchester, I have come up with 5 things I would recommend to anyone starting a postgraduate course.
- Get there early
Not everyone will be able to do this, due to travel and accommodation restrictions, however if you can, arriving slightly earlier to Manchester is extremely beneficial. This gives you the time to explore the city and get your bearings before classes begin. You could almost treat it as a mini holiday, for example sightseeing or finding your favourite coffee spots! It’s really helpful to familiarise yourself with your local area and establish a routine as it becomes a lot harder to manage your time once your Master’s begins.
- Be realistic about time management
I found that my workload increased dramatically from what I was used to in my undergraduate degree, both in terms of classes and individual study expectations. As someone who loves to be busy and get involved in lots of things, I initially struggled to balance my weekly schedule. Consider what is most important to you and prioritise it but remember your commitment to getting a Master’s degree!
- Try not to isolate yourself
Studying for a Master’s can be both time consuming and academically challenging, so it is easy to become withdrawn if things get stressful. However, it’s important to find people to talk to and to spend time with friends. Most postgraduate courses have smaller class sizes than undergraduate degrees which can make it easier to get to know your fellow course mates who can be great people to hang out with since you’re all in the same boat!
- Use the resources available to you
The University of Manchester is a prestigious institution with incredible resources available. For example, it has an award-winning careers service to help students progress further. Some resources will depend on the course you choose but these could be the use of special equipment, access to research laboratories and designated buildings. It’s also the largest single-site university in the UK so it’s a great opportunity to network and make links with staff and students who are in the relevant industries to you.
- Enjoy the moment!
While you’ve probably heard it a million times before, time will fly by and it’s important to feel like you’ve made the most of your Master’s experience. I still can’t believe how quickly the first semester went but it has been incredibly rewarding. As this is my final year in formal education, I’m going to appreciate every minute of my postgraduate journey.
Going into the new term this January, I’ll be keeping these reflections in mind in order to take advantage of doing a Master’s and all the opportunities it brings.