I started my MSC in Occupational Health and Safety Management at the University of Portsmouth last month (September). Although challenging, so far it has been a great decision, and one which I know will support me hugely in my future career, and current role.
However, there are some things I have learnt since taking on the course. So, if you are thinking of doing an MSc in your field, here are some things to think about before taking the plunge:
A MSc is a huge undertaking. It requires commitment and passion from you, to ensure you get what you want out of the qualification. A MSc traditionally lasts around 1-3 years, depending on if you do it part time or full time.
An MSc cannot be achieved overnight, and you may find yourself doubting your ability to achieve the qualification. But with time, and patience, you will achieve it … and even surprise yourself.
But most importantly, you do not want to burn yourself out by cramming a month of work into one weekend. It will not do you, or your assignment any good!
You will need to develop strong time management skills quickly (if you do not already have the skill nailed down!). Whether you are a MSc apprentice, or a masters student working alongside your full-time job, you will need to balance deadlines and revision alongside pre-existing commitments.
If you are a MSc apprentice, you will get study days allocated to you to focus on your MSc work (make sure you use these … it is easy to not use them!).
If you are a full-time employee, planning to do an MSc alongside your job, your company may give you time to do this during work. However, they may not – so it is important to manage your time, especially in the evenings, to ensure you commit the time needed to your studies.
Like time management, organisation is KEY when undertaking a MSc in your chosen subject. A MSc is heavily dependent on research, and you as a learner finding answers for yourself … its not like other qualifications where they tell you want, they want you to do to the letter.
Due to this, extensive research will be needed to gather the information you need for assignments, and to develop your general understanding of topics.
To ensure you have time to do this prior to assignment deadlines, you will need to balance your work and social schedules – and organise your time … sometimes to the minute!
Are you a social person, who never has an evening free? Well, you might need to rethink an MSc at this time in your life.
Once you get started with an MSc, it will overtake your social calendar, due to the sheer amount of work that is needed (especially research!).
Now, that is not to say that you should not socialise. You should assign ‘MSc Free Days’ where you take a break from studies all together. However, you will need to be prepared to decline social invites to be available for exams, and revision.
Lectures are so important to develop your academic skills (especially if you are not used to writing or studying academically – it is quite different to school academia!). Lectures will give you the insight you need into a topic, to help you answer assignment questions, but also to develop your own skills.
Now … that being said … do not waste time attending lectures that are not relating to your course, or if you already have knowledge of the subject area.
This is where Time Management and Organisation is key – establish how to best use your time to achieve the best results.
That all being said, an MSc is a wonderful thing to work towards, and will return on your time investment throughout your career. But do not rush signing up to one. Do your research. speak to People, and most importantly, make sure it is the right timing for you!