4 challenges facing postgrad students (with solutions)

It’s never been easy to be a postgrad student – pursuing further education while others are moving into the workforce – but it’s become so much harder in 2020 due to the major repercussions of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Today, postgrad students face some huge challenges that threaten to make their lives extremely difficult. In this post, we’re going to look at four of these intimidating challenges, explaining why they shouldn’t be so intimidating — and how they can be overcome. Let’s get started.

Managing finances

Students have always had to carefully manage their finances, lacking the time and experience to work lucrative full-time jobs. It’s also tough to put significant effort into a job when so much of your energy is going towards your studies. Right now, the global recession that inevitably stemmed from widespread lockdown efforts and the effective shutdown of some major industries (such as tourism) is adding to the complexity, making it tougher to rely on family. The solution? Leaning on any and all government support schemes that appear, cutting back on frivolous spending, and pooling resources with other students to buy staples in bulk (it’s cheaper that way) as well as save money on accommodation. There’s also a lot of value in enterprising students finding ways to make money on the side, something that’s more accessible than ever before through the rise of e-commerce in mainstream awareness. Plus, you can apply for a Postgrad Solutions Study Bursary worth £500 towards your tuition fees.

Building professional credentials

Here’s the point of bringing up e-commerce: with online retail largely unaffected by Covid-19, smart students can be running their own online stores using fulfilment methods such as dropshipping to sell without ever buying anything. There are other options, too, such as running pop-up stores using retail pos software or selling digital products such as training materials, but those aren’t outright necessary — just useful. The consequences of this go beyond just making money. A side hustle may be a side venture (hence the name), but it’s a business even so, and there’s experiential value in running a business — value that can really prove its worth down the line when a postgrad student concludes their studies and wants to find a career opportunity (or even commit fully to self-employment, something that’s growing in popularity these days). It is really hard to stand out in the business world when there’s so much competition around, especially given the hiring backlog that resulted from the main lockdown period. Starting a business is a fantastic way to show initiative, creativity and commitment.

Looking after mental health

It’s perfectly normal to feel worn down at this point, having been living with a global pandemic for about half a year already — but it’s worse for postgraduate students in some ways. Undergraduate students are more commonly shielded by their families, while budding professionals should have regular incomes (and free time) to calm their fears. But postgraduate students fall somewhere between the two. They need to make sure they focus on their wellbeing, keeping their physical health managed through regular exercise, talking about their problems whenever useful (to their friends will suffice), and refusing to dwell on the negatives. The future can still be bright and it’s vital to remember this.

Working & socialising safely with Covid-19

It seems that there isn’t going to be a hyper-convenient wrap-up to the Covid-19 outbreak: even if a safe and effective vaccine arrives as promptly as possible, the virus will likely stick around for a few years. The truth is that some parts of life have changed for the long haul. The principles behind social distancing will last, for instance, as will the move to remote working. This is tough for postgraduate students. They don’t just need to work, after all: they also need to socialise to make their workloads bearable, embrace their adulthood and network for future professional opportunities. And all of these things are tougher now. So how can they keep their lives going without taking undue risks? This partially comes down to following best practices concerning Covid-19  – washing hands regularly, wearing masks at appropriate times, avoiding unnecessary contact, spacing out social activity, etc. The rest of it is about making the most of modern technology: using laptops and smartphones as effectively as possible, holding virtual events, working from home when possible and keeping up with the latest advice.

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