Every year a lot of working professionals decide to embark on postgraduate programs. This is usually because they find themselves stuck in a situation where, for years their career had been going along without a hitch but, all of a sudden, they hit a wall. They don’t seem to advance in their field or discover that their field is not firing their passion anymore. Or maybe technology advancements are rendering their skills obsolete as compared to all that young crowd the companies are hiring.
A postgraduate program is a great deal for working professionals as it offers more practical programs and aims to add a skill set to a professional’s resume or help them reskill in a completely different domain. As Miriam Horn wrote in US News and World Report, “Most older graduate students find that their return to the classroom opens up new, even unexpected possibilities. Like generations before them, they are taking advantage of a distinctive feature of this nation: the opportunity to make a fresh start.”
A good postgraduate program (PGP) would require a fair investment of your time and money, so you don’t want to end up opting for one that would not be useful to you. Selecting the right course for the postgraduate study is a big step. It is very important to consider the value that a particular program will add to your existing skill set.
So, before you put everything on hold and pick your bag to head back to campus, you have to confront a lot of tough choices. Here are some factors that you need to consider that will help you choose the right PGP for you -
1. Do it for the right reason
It is really important to understand what your motivations are. Figure out your motivation for why you want to study further? It could either be to increase your knowledge, professional expertise, and skills or to increase your chance of employment in the desired field. Or maybe you would like to gain a qualification that will push your career forward. Devise a plan for your goals before you opt for the postgraduate program and then proceed accordingly.
2. Do your research
It is important to do thorough research of the program before opting for it. Ask yourself what you are expecting out of the program and how will it help you reach your career goal. Research the courses that relate to your interests and discover which will deliver your expectations. Seek out people who can give you unbiased advice. Get the course prospectus and take your time to read into the curriculum. Talk to the sales executives of the courses to find out about different programs and choose the one that interests you.
3. Consider the investment return
Many postgraduate programs can be expensive that can cost you a fortune. So, it is always important to consider how much return you will get for your investment. Think like a merchant and do your research on the average salaries that the course has provided in the past. However, it is a known fact that the average salaries of postgraduates are higher than bachelor’s degree holders, and often balance out the cost of your investment quickly.
4. Explore your financial options
There are many options available when it comes to the fee payment structure of institutions. So, you do not always have to bear a load of loans. There are many institutions that offer financial support and bursaries to postgraduate students and many that provide installment options for fee payment. Hence, it is worth exploring all your options before you plan your finances for fee payment.
5. Check if your company pays for your PGP
Many companies have a real need to keep competent employees and hence they support their employees for higher education. These employers sometimes even reimburse your postgraduate program fee. So check with your HR whether your company has any such policy before you enroll for a program. If you get lucky, this would release a lot of pressure from your mind and pocket and you’ll be able to focus more on your studies.
6. Investigate the university stats
You’ll find hundreds of universities offering the course of your interest and it will really boggle your mind choosing amongst them. You can make this choice easier by investigating how these universities are rated in terms of department, professionalism, quality of teaching etc.
7. Learn from others’ experience
Try to get in touch with the people who have already completed the course which you are going for. Their reviews will give you an honest picture of how promising they found the course, how they funded it, where they got placed, and you could also get to know the mistakes they made which you could avoid.
8. Consider Online PGP
Many working professionals drop the idea to go for postgrad because they are not comfortable leaving their jobs or switching places to attend grad school. Online postgraduation programs are the light in the dark for these people. They work similar to a traditional PGP but have add-on perks like flexible class schedules, remote access to the course from anywhere over the Internet, expert support from experienced industry practitioners. The benefits provided by online grad programs will definitely make you rethink your decision.
There is definitely plenty to think about before considering a postgraduate program. However, if you take your time to do the research and mark your career goals, you could be in for an experience of a lifetime!