Am I Ready to Pursue a Postgraduate Degree?Chen Wan Lim
Today’s global marketplace places high value on qualifications and academic credentials. Hence, deciding to pursue a postgraduate degree is a big step ahead. Most often, candidates pursue a Master degree either to have higher paper qualifications, to enhance their career progression or to even move on to a managerial role from a technical role. Whatever the reason, these are some pertinent questions to ask oneself before committing time, effort and finances to a Master degree.
- Am I sufficiently qualified to pursue a Master degree?
Firstly, potential candidates would need to gauge if their prior qualifications, experiences and education background enable them to apply for a certain postgraduate course. Basic qualifications could be a basic undergraduate degree, work experience, English proficiency (TOEFL, IELTS) and standardized entry exams (GMAT, GRE). However, with open universities these days, barriers to entry seems to be more relaxed as significant work experience is valued more. In such instance, it is best to consult a professional postgraduate counsellor such a Study-Masters.com.
- Do I really need a postgraduate degree for my career progression?
Certain postgraduate programmes are great as it can enhance your career progression exponentially as it equips candidates with superior analytical ability, decision making and critical thinking skills. However, candidates would need to determine if the current or perhaps future vocation they are involved in requires an enhanced postgraduate degree. Hence, before committing to paying the deposit and planning your night schedule, try getting a professional counselor to assist you in determining which postgraduate course suits you best, if any.
- How can I balance studying and working?
For most working adults, committing to a full time postgraduate degree might not seem like a good option as the reason is obvious – loss of income. Potential candidates are then advised to pursue a part-time postgraduate degree as it offers flexible learning hours while still being employed. Some employers do provide leeway to employees undergoing postgraduate courses such as time-off and study leaves. Also, pursuing a full-time postgraduate course might not be a good option if job security and employability post-completion might be an issue.
- Am I financially prepared for this commitment?
Theoretically, a postgraduate degree is an investment as the future benefits such as job promotions and increments could pay back the costs incurred in acquiring the Master degree. But in reality, that might not always be the case. For some, pursuing a Master degree would require them to take a study loan or to refinance their assets. As such, potential candidates would need to gauge the future tradeoff of acquiring a postgraduate degree. As discussed above, there might also be potential loss of income if potential candidates were to pursue a full-time postgraduate course.
- What type of learning experience do I want?
Some candidates seek practical knowledge while some might seek theoretical knowledge. For those with significant work experience, an MBA might be a preferred path while for those who are seeking a more formal classroom format with lectures, tutorials and small group presentations, then an MSc might be suitable. Some candidates might even be seeking a campus lifestyle which makes choosing the right institution with the right campus setting (city campus, rural campus, satellite learning centers etc) a criterion.
- Will my family be agreeable with this?
Deciding on a postgraduate degree is not a decision to be made alone. Often, it involves the entire family. As such, it would be advisable to seek the opinion of close family members as your decision to commit time and finances will directly affect them.
There are many other questions to ask oneself before committing. In a nutshell, those questions which you will be asking are to gauge your preparedness, either financially or mentally in pursuing a postgraduate degree. Candidates would also need to visualize and end-goal or a target to be achieved by the end of the course.