Think outside the box: getting ahead in fourth-level education

One of the most oft-repeated snippets of advice overheard at the postgradireland Further Study Fair last month was the phrase ‘think outside the box’.

Although it’s a bit of a corporate cliché, thinking outside the box can really pay off if you are applying for further study, looking for funding, preparing for interview or simply wondering how a postgraduate qualification could increase your employability.

If you’re a potential postgrad looking for funding, be brave and imaginative in your search: it’s well worth approaching companies for financial assistance (particularly in the IT and engineering sectors) – some are likely to be only too pleased to help you if they think they’ll be getting a return on their investment in the form of projects completed or research undertaken on their behalf.

Perhaps you’re keen to pursue further or postgraduate study, but can’t commit to a full-time programme? Well, take a look at other modes of study. Many colleges including Dublin City University, NUI Galway and University College Dublin’s Centre for Distance Learning offer part-time, blended learning or distance learning courses that offer maximum flexibility for those in full-time work or juggling other commitments, meaning that you can achieve an accredited postgraduate qualification from the comfort of your own home.

And if you’re contemplating studying overseas, it’s worth casting your net wide within your country of choice to increase the likelihood of getting onto a course (although if you’re thinking about studying in the US don’t apply to more than six colleges per year). Look closely at all of the available options: is a private university the best choice for you? Or would a state institution suit you better? Be proactive and tenacious in your research. Get on the phone and talk to admissions tutors; find out if there’s an Irish Society on campus and talk to its members; don’t be afraid to ask questions. Think outside the box and go that little bit further: it could make all the difference!

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