A Balanced Guide to Postgraduate Life

Going back to University or transitioning to a postgraduate degree can seem like a major step up. We’re here to tell you that it doesn’t have to be. At a university like the University of Manchester, with so much to do and so many people to meet, being a postgraduate can be a great experience. All you have to do is bring an open mind and be ready to step out of your comfort zone.

Although you will probably be older than most of the students at the University, don’t let that prevent you from joining societies, sports clubs or volunteering. Having completed a degree already, postgrad life could be your chance to approach being a student in a more mature way. The tips below are great starting points.

Join a society or an athletics club

As a postgrad, you often have limited time to get settled in once your course starts, which can sometimes put a cloud over your social life. Societies can be a great way to make friends quickly and get to know the University. The Students’ Union has loads of societies for whatever you fancy. They range from the drum and bass society (which is great if you’re a keen musician) to the running society (because running is a lot more fun when you’re running together). You can check out the University of Manchester’s student societies here, and even start your own.

runCC image courtesy of Josiah Mackenzie on Flickr (https://www.flickr.com/photos/josiahmackenzie/3414064391)

Set goals for each module at the beginning of every semester

Unlike undergraduate modules, postgrad seminars tend to be smaller and more intimate.  See this as an opportunity to develop constructive relationships with your lecturers. As well as being able to offer academic support, they can be great references for future career prospects. Meet your lectures or academic advisors at the beginning of every semester to set goals for what you’d like to achieve. This is a great way to get to know your lecturers and ask any questions regarding your coursework and assessments.

Get a part-time job or a volunteer position

As a postgrad, your career prospects are never far away from your mind. Getting a part-time job is one of the best ways to boost your CV and gain practical experience, while also meeting new people. The University’s Careers Service is the best starting point, with resources and advice regarding the part-time job market in Manchester and your possible options. Find out more here.

Volunteering is a flexible way to get involved in the University or the local community. Your network can never be too big! Keep an eye out for e-mails from your school’s office, as they often advertise work and volunteer opportunities geared towards students in their field. A quick Google search of local organisations can open the door to opportunities that will improve your prospects. Both the University and the Students’ Union have more information about volunteering available online: http://www.volunteers.manchester.ac.uk/ https://manchesterstudentsunion.com/volunteering

Form study groups with your classmates

Unlike your undergraduate years, you’ll find that postgraduate studies can be intense, with less free time. This can leave you feeling alone with sleepless nights spent deciphering complex theories or equations. If you’re struggling with an assignment or have a question, your classmates are a great resource in helping you brainstorm possible solutions. Don’t be afraid to approach them for advice and suggest the possibility of forming a study group. It’s fun and helpful!

Startup Stock Photos

Try something new

Just do it. Being a postgraduate doesn’t mean that you have to be in the library or the lab 24/7. Take a few hours out of your daily routine to try something new; whether that’s taking a bike ride in the Peak District, watching a football match or visiting one of Manchester’s many museums. Trust us, you will enjoy every second of it. A quick Google search will lead you to lots of websites with what to see and do in Manchester, such as Manchester Wire, which posts weekly suggestions of free things to do in Manchester. Also, the Royal Exchange Theatre releases 100 student tickets for each Friday night theatre performance that cost as little as £6. For more information on this, see here.

royal-exchangeCC image courtesy of Gidzy on Flickr (https://www.flickr.com/photos/gidzy/11878144295/in/photostream/)

Your time as a postgraduate is short so make sure you make the most of it! If you are struggling with work or need extra advice about anything, you can come along to the My Learning Essentials workshops and drop-ins, or e-mail us at mle@manchester.ac.uk. We create new workshops according to public demand so let us know if there is anything you would like to see on the schedule.

Tweet us or leave a comment here with your recommendations on how to enjoy your postgraduate life! 🙂

By Fignola from the Student Team


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