Start at the beginning: do you need a postgraduate degree or not to achieve your professional fulfillment? In this article we will provide you with key points to solve these unknowns, as well as useful information to consider when making this decision.
Reasons to study a graduate degree
We list the benefits of studying for a graduate degree. However, care must be taken not to confuse them with common reasons for studying for a graduate degree such as:
- Aspire to better job opportunities or a higher salary.
- Have more options to develop your professional career as well as prove your professional experience with a postgraduate degree.
- An increase in your personal development.
- Acquire skills and knowledge to start your own business.
- Get into contact networks in your field.
- Make a career change.
- Find a life partner.
- Experimenting with living and studying abroad and possibly emigrating later.
- Find an intellectual challenge.
Sometimes these reasons do not stand up to an analysis that implies your long-term interests. Positive results may result, but not necessarily the same as the expectations you had. It may even be that the graduate degree does not fill you up and does not contribute anything to your professional career. That is why it is important to question yourself deeply before proceeding to make decisions.
When faced with a situation of doubt, you should start by identifying what is the real problem that you are facing at this moment in your life and your professional career. In our experience, difficulties often arise when applicants to accredit higher education, specifically a postgraduate degree, do not realize that they are dealing with an anticipated answer, rather than a serious question. A “solution” they offer to another problem. Bernard Roth, in his book The Habit of Achievement, recalls that the fact that a question begins and ends with question marks is not enough to transform it into a real question. If you start by assuming a priori that you need to study a graduate degree, you lose the opportunity to:
- Calculate the opportunity costs that studying a graduate degree entails compared to other possible solutions. For example, continue working to gain more professional experience, or study a certification, or even a different postgraduate degree.
- Understand that graduate school is not an end in itself.
- Reflect on your long-term career path and, therefore, strategically and consciously plant the steps you must follow to achieve your goals.
If you first identify the real problem you are facing: what do I need to achieve my future professional fulfillment? you will be taking the first steps to solve the indicated problem.
This will help you start making decisions from a real understanding of the situation.
Why study a postgraduate degree?
In today’s world of work, having a bachelor’s degree no longer really represents a competitive advantage to fulfill aspirations for professional as well as personal fulfillment, which is why the number of people who recognize the advantages of studying a postgraduate degree is increasing and as a consequence aspires to them. However, it is also important to accept that due to this increase in applicants for a master’s degree and / or doctorate, the simple fact of obtaining the degree is no longer a guarantee to achieve objectives such as salary increases, better jobs or emigrating abroad. Therefore, the decision to do a graduate degree should be part of a professional development plan.Understanding the above will save you from ending up in a situation where, after having reached your goal of studying abroad for a postgraduate degree, when you return to the local labor market you are overqualified, leading you to return to the same position in which you were or your equivalent. Another situation that may arise is having acquired skills and knowledge in your graduate program but that do not respond to the circumstances in which you seek to enter.
The what, where and when to study a postgraduate course are issues that you will resolve more clearly once you have drawn up your long-term career plan. The first step to visualize this route more clearly is to know your reasons and personal interests, which will lead you to be able to develop a professional project. For example, start by asking yourself what it means to you to have a good job, based on your expectations, values and lifestyle, the definition will change. Perhaps for someone, a good job is one that offers flexibility and the opportunity to contribute to solving a social cause, while for someone else it may be to be in a company that offers a career plan and internal growth. For another individual, it may be being in the highest paying jobs.
On the other hand, reflect on the profile you want to have: specialist or generalist. A generalist is someone who knows little about many subjects, and has good leadership, negotiation, strategic planning, problem solving, and long-term vision skills, and therefore can change industry or sector more easily. A specialist is someone who knows a lot about a specific topic and wants to continue developing in that niche. This is very common in science and technology graduate programs. Also think about your professional legacy.
A key question is how do I see myself in 10 years? If everything goes well, where will I be living? What kind of work will I be doing? What problems or issues will I be solving? Think about what you have done to date to get closer to the person you aspire to be in 10 years, and consider what you need in the future to become one. Don’t think in terms of graduate degrees, or in terms of the specific positions you aspire to have. Weigh based on the problems you will be solving or the issues you want to dedicate your professional career to.
A common mistake among many candidates is not taking advantage of this stage to reflect on their professional career. They think that studying for a graduate degree is a natural step as was studying for a bachelor’s degree. This mentality makes them more susceptible to making the wrong choice, or missing the opportunity to do the graduate degree that best serves them for their future plans.
What does it take to study a graduate degree?
When thinking about the requirements to study a postgraduate degree requested in the applications by the Universities, a list of documents and exams to be completed comes to mind; However, here lies the vitality of making the aforementioned reflection on the true reasons and interests to study a postgraduate degree. This is what will allow you to build a personal narrative that you can now capture and transmit in those requirements such as interviews, letters of recommendation, essays and even your CV. Consistently capturing a story of you as the main character, where you show your differentiators is what will give you the support to be a strong candidate in the selection process.
Scholarships to finance you
As we already mentioned, in order for your professional career to have the necessary momentum to achieve long-term goals, it is important to study a competitive graduate degree and likewise, completing it with scholarships that were offered will speak well of your application and therefore of your professional differentiators. If you want to know more about scholarships to study, in our blog you will find several recommendations as well as information about institutions that offer scholarships and financing for your studies and maintenance.