So you've cruised through a undergraduate course and have decided to continue swimming in the education stream by tackling a demanding postgraduate course? There's no denying it's a fantastic addition to any CV and a foolproof way of putting yourself ahead of the competition in today's cut throat jobs market. However, there are some important issues to bear in mind before embarking on a year or more of intensive and expensive masters lectures.
In the UK, tuition fees
for postgraduate course typically come in between £3000 and £10,000, so it's not something that should be entered into lightly. And this is only part of the total cost. Living expenses also have to be factored into the equation. If you're studying in the UK's most expensive city, London, living costs can run up to £500 a week. Whichever way you look at it, postgraduate courses are expensive undertakings and definitely not something you want to mess up because of something stupid like missing lectures.
As an undergraduate, you can get away with partying like a rockstar 5 nights a week, skipping lectures and covering yourself by copying notes from your more diligent classmates. Unfortunately, you won't be able to get away with this when you enroll in a round of masters lectures. It's the same as a championship football team being promoted to the premier league; if you don't give it your all, you'll be going straight back down to where you came from.
One of the biggest differences you will notice between undergraduate courses and masters lectures is the huge increase in the workload. On a postgrad course, not only is the volume of work substantially greater but your depth of knowledge and understanding of your chosen topic is also expected to be at a much higher level. The only way of making sure you keep on top of the situation is by attending every lecture on your timetable.
The thing about masters lectures is they are very progressive and every lecture builds and adds on to the last one. So if you miss one lecture, don't be surprised to find yourself bewildered in the next class and having to waste precious time covering ground on your own that your classmates have already got down to a tee.
One of the biggest advantages of completing a postgraduate course is the doors it opens for you in the world of employment
. A huge number of postgrad students are aiming for a position in the world of academia and, very often, in the very institution where they have studied. And if you're hoping your current lecturers are going to become your future colleagues and bosses, it's vital that you prove to them that you have no problem attending regular classes.
Even if you're not looking for a teaching position in the university where you studied and want to get into a lucrative position with a private sector company, it's still crucial that you make a good impression on your lecturers. When private companies are head-hunting for the best postgrad students to award contracts to, their first point of reference is usually the university's lecturers. And if you haven't been attending the lectures, it's very unlikely that your lecturers will be able to give you a glowing recommendation.
Another possible reason for attending masters lectures is that in some cases postgrad courses in the UK work on a credits system – although at present this is a predominantly US system. This system means that a certain number of credits are awarded for attending lectures and if at the end of the course, even if you have flawless knowledge of your subject, without the necessary credits, you won't be awarded that certificate that you've been working so hard for.