Postgraduate study: is it right for you?Posted: May 26, 2011
After spending the best part of two decades in full-time education, you could be forgiven for running a mile at the prospect of postgraduate study. Alternatively, if you’re not quite ready to face the big bad world of work, it might be a natural next step. There are many reasons to pursue postgraduate education, but if you’re not quite sure which study route to take, drop in to the further study zone at the gradireland Summer Fair on 15 June (www.gradireland.com/summerfair) for help and advice.
In the meantime, a close look at your motivations could help you decide.
If your employment prospects are a strong motivating factor, have a look at job adverts in the sector(s) you’re considering, and think about the skills they ask for. Will the modules on a particular course help you develop them? Bear in mind that many jobs will still require practical experience – does the course offer a chance to do a placement? Certain institutions also have strong links with organisations relevant to the programmes they offer, which can be a useful platform in gaining experience and even employment.
If you want to spend more time investigating an area of academic study, have an idea of what you’d like to specialise in. Discuss your ideas with a tutor from your undergraduate days, or get in contact with staff on the course you’re considering to talk through your options. While research-led courses put the onus on you to direct your area of specialisation, taught programmes may also offer a degree of flexibility in the modules they offer or the topics covered in assessments.
There is a huge amount of choice when it comes to postgraduate courses, but taking the time to think about why you’re looking at them in the first place can help you determine what exactly you want from fourth-level education and help to distinguish between what’s on offer. Further study can be wonderfully enriching, but the trade-off is a significant investment of time and effort, so make sure you choose a course that will maximise your employability at the end of it.