How to get the most out of your master’s program
By time you reach postgraduate status being told how to make the most of your time may seem like attempting to explain the concept of snow to Eskimos! However with the transition from bachelor’s degree to master’s degree you are to an extent entering a different world, where the gap between tutor and student narrows even further and departments are smaller and more specialised. Because of this you are treated more as an academic member of the department and are given increased scope to decide the subjects you would like to study/specialise in, even in a taught master's program.
Capitalising on this newfound freedom will open up all sorts of avenues that will enhance your perspective and deepen your understanding of your subject, as well as ensuring you wind up top of the class!
Keep at the cutting edge
If you’ve got as far as choosing to study a master’s program it’s fairly safe to assume that you have strong interest in the subject you’re studying and are thankfully well past the age where going above and beyond in your work elicits nicknames ostracising you from the cool crew! At this level of study, scouring university notice-boards for relevant events and eminent speakers passes without comment and is indeed openly encouraged.
All university departments are very active in organising conferences discussing the latest ideas and attracting leaders in the field to present their research. Also keep an eye out for news stories and events of cultural relevance, if applicable, that are connected to your subject area. Positioning yourself at the cutting edge of your subject in and out of the classroom can only benefit you and your work as you ensure that you are as informed as you can possibly be.
Broaden your network of contacts
As up and coming members of your new academic community you will discover a wealth of fascinating events across the country that you had no idea existed. The internet is of course a useful tool but your tutors are perfectly placed for getting you into the loop, so let them know early on in your course that you’re interested in events outside the confines of the university. Tutors love it when their students show independent interest and will be more than happy to point you in a particular direction and/or put you in touch with the relevant people. Use your university as a resource from which to broaden your network of contacts and people who can provide you with additional insight to enrich your own.
Work with your peers
For the diligent master’s student your course mates are your new BFFs. It is a truth anecdotally acknowledged (by tutors) that students who work together do better. Your postgrad peers will be just as keen and just as knowledgeable as you, so why not pool your resources? With different angles and specialisms between you, sharing them will make everyone consider views they had not previously thought of while providing a more rounded knowledge of the entire subject for all. This tactic is especially useful for students doing taught master’s with exams, though can be applied to all master’s courses. It’s also a more efficient way of working; split up reading lists between you and then share your notes. Less work = everyone wins!
Your master’s degree should be a richly rewarding and stimulating experience, where you are encouraged to make your own contribution to the development of the subject. If you take just one thing away from this article, let it be to take full advantage of the opportunities and resources at your disposal, both paper and people!