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What it's like being a mature postgrad student

Hi everyone, my name is Chelsea. I’m a mature postgraduate student and in this blog I will talk about the reasons I decided to come back to education and how it’s been for me; hopefully they will be of help to you.

Assorted books stacked on top of each other

Pros and cons of taking time off in between studies

It was a bit of a shock coming back to full-time education. I don’t think I realised how intense a postgraduate degree would be alongside my part-time jobs, so it definitely took some time getting used to it. I was used to having my weekends free but now spend them writing an assessment or reading in preparation for a class, so that’s probably the hardest thing to get used to.

Having said that, taking time off from studying and working for a few years was also really beneficial. For my undergraduate degree, I didn’t put as much thought into the subject I was studying, whereas now I have had the time to truly think about where I want to go. Taking a step back was a good way to put things into perspective, and definitely gave me the drive to go and succeed at the next level. I would encourage you to use your time in between studies to think about your options and the direction you’d like to take, to make sure you make the right choice.

Finding your motivation

In terms of why I returned to education, I did so for a number of reasons. Firstly, I always felt like there was some “unfinished business” with my studies, so I had a feeling I was going to come back eventually. At the time of finishing my BSc I was very unsure of what I wanted to study next, but with a bit of time I felt far more prepared to go back in. 

Secondly, undertaking a postgraduate degree is very beneficial (and a requirement!) for my role as a part-time lecturer, as it allows me to both study and teach at a higher level. Aside from lecturing, it also felt like a sensible move career-wise as even if I don’t stay in academia postgraduate skills are highly transferable and other professions might require it.

I picked up some good habits during my studies that I was able to apply to tasks within my job.

Mutual benefits of working and studying

Working alongside studying has been a massive help in so many ways. I have acquired a range of skills in my part-time role, for example critical thinking and public speaking. Working in academia has given me ample opportunity to really hone these skills, but you can also gain valuable insights from other roles.

Similarly, I picked up some good habits during my studies that I was able to apply to tasks within my job. Remaining organised was something I had to perfect when working at a postgraduate level, so it was a welcome relief to be able to continue this effectively into other areas of my life.

Some tips to think about

Thankfully, being a mature student doesn’t seem to be much different from my undergrad. There’s still lots of opportunities to connect with people of your age or shared interest through clubs and societies, and being slightly more mature has helped me in a few ways when dealing with the panic of looming deadlines. 

When deciding on where to go for my postgraduate degree, I probably had a few more things to consider than the average 21-year-old. For example, I am recently married so had to choose a location that would work for my partner and their career too. Similarly, we had to balance my studies with our house and my own job, so it was a bit of a minefield to get everything sorted.

Considering your postgraduate studies early is definitely something I would recommend, along with getting in touch with the institution itself, if you have any reservations.

So hopefully some of the above will help. I’ve found so many positives this year from studying as a mature postgraduate student, so I encourage you to give it a go.

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