I remember the first lecture as a Masters’ student like it was yesterday. One of the first things our course directors told us was the hours we had to study over this year per day: 12 hours! Everyone started laughing, including our tutors, but it wasn’t until after a couple of months that we realised this wasn’t a joke.
A full-time Masters IS tough, but it is achievable and, if done right, it can also be fun! Yes, there were times where I had to wake up very early to study, go to lectures and then stay at uni until 3 am, but that was only during busy periods when we had multiple deadlines at the same time, most days included time for coffee, friends, socials and nights in town.
Starting with the challenges No.1 is, of course, the workload: as I mentioned already there were times, usually before the end of the first and second term, when we had individual and group assignments plus exams at the same time. When I decided to apply for my programme I had a feeling of what it would be like, but you can never be fully prepared.
Learning from my bachelor’s degree, I knew leaving things to the last moment doesn’t work for me as the stress can take over my productivity, so as well as the deadline dates on my calendar I also included the starting, finishing and editing dates to help me plan all my coursework ahead. Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean I avoided some long sleepless nights though…
Each student has a different experience as we all come from different backgrounds. Having some years of work experience can be a big benefit for a postgraduate degree, as you can understand and learn a topic from your practical knowledge. Additionally, if you are an international student the language barrier can be challenging for the first couple of months, but you can easily get used to it. When it comes to assignments and dissertations the university provides language courses and study support throughout the year, but you also have your personal tutor and supervisor who are there to help.
Balancing studies with personal life is also a big challenge as there is always something you can work on even if its preparation for upcoming lectures or reading external articles and there were times I would question whether the work I’ve prepared was good enough. The truth is that it will never be perfect, but to be productive at uni you need to forget about it for a while, give yourself a break and just spend some time doing the things you like. Going to the gym, hanging out with friends on or off campus were necessary to keep me going, when I found myself stuck and unproductive I would go for a walk at the lake or at the gym to let some steam off. There are also sports societies, clubs and volunteering activities on campus for everyone’s’ taste.
Workload and life balance were the two big challenges I faced this year, however, now that I am nearing the end of my course it’s only the new people, new experiences and new places which I will remember.
Believe it or not, Masters’ is not just about studying! At Henley, we had some unforgettable moments at the socials where we had the chance to talk to our course mates, bonding over free pizza and beer! It was a great way to get to know everyone a bit more and talk about something else apart from deadlines. We also had some very interesting study visits to the Branding museum in London and the Madejski Stadium in Reading where we met industry professionals and saw their work. Last but not least, the study field trip to Lugano as part of one of our modules was an experience I will never forget. We visited a variety of businesses, met some great people who gave us tours around their companies and we took the roles of consultants to help them develop their companies further. Getting those multicultural experiences helps you develop your own personality and prepare you for your future career in any type of business.