Returning to university for a masters: how to make the most of a one year course

Carlo shares his top tips for making the most of a one year postgraduate course.

Studying equipment on a desk.

Returning to university for a masters degree can be both exciting and intimidating. It's an opportunity to delve deeper into a subject that you're passionate about and to gain new skills, but it can also be overwhelming to adjust to the demands of academic again after a break. Here are some tips for making the most of your one year masters course:

  1. Get organised. One of the biggest challenges of returning to university is juggling coursework with other responsibilities. Create a schedule that allows you to prioritise your studies and allocate enough time for each task. Use a planner or a scheduling app to help you stay on track.
  2. Set goals. It's important to have a clear idea of what you hope to achieve during your masters programme. This will help you stay motivated and focused. Make a list of specific goals, both short-term and long-term, and break them down into smaller steps. This will make it easier to see your progress and stay on track.
  3. Seek out support. It's OK to ask for help when you need it. There are many resources available to students, such as tutoring services, study groups, and academic advisors. Don't be afraid to reach out for support when you need it.
  4. Take care of yourself. It's important to take care of your physical and mental health while you're at university. Make sure to get enough sleep, eat well, and exercise regularly. It's also important to find ways to manage stress, such as through meditation or other relaxation techniques.
  5. Engage in class. Participating in class discussions and asking questions can help you get more out of your courses. It can also help you build relationships with your professors and classmates, which can be valuable resources later on.
  6. Network. A master's degree is not just about coursework, it's also about building connections and making professional contacts. Take advantage of opportunities to network with your peers, professors, and industry professionals. Attend conferences, workshops, and other events that can help you build your professional network.
  7. Seek out internships and other experiential learning opportunities. An internship or other experiential learning opportunity can provide valuable hands-on experience and help you apply the skills you're learning in class. It can also help you build your CV and make connections in your field.
  8. Stay engaged outside of class. There are many ways to get involved in campus life and stay engaged outside of class. Consider joining a club or society that aligns with your interests or volunteering in your community. This can help you build new skills and make connections that can benefit you both personally and professionally.
  9. Have fun. While your master's programme will be demanding, it's important to make time for fun and self-care. Don't be afraid to take breaks and do things that bring you joy. This will help you stay motivated and energised throughout the year.

Returning to university for a masters degree can be a challenging but rewarding experience. By staying organised, setting goals, seeking out support, and engaging in class and campus life, you can make the most of your one year course and set yourself up for success.

Written by Carlo Vidal Miranda in March 2023.

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