Returning to study as a postgrad student: what it’s really like

Returning to study as a postgraduate student.

Returning to study. It’s a big choice. Especially when it comes to postgraduate study.

Will this degree help me get my career to the next level? Can I afford it? Will it be worth it? I don’t know if I can manage the juggling act of full-time study and everyday life!

If you often find those thoughts running through your head – this article is for you. 

Insight sat down with a couple of Charles Sturt University students to get the uncensored version of what it’s really like returning to study as a postgrad student.

Laura Cohalan is currently on maternity leave after having her first child and is studying her Master of Business Administration (MBA) with Charles Sturt University.

Amy Felke is Manager, Creative Services at Charles Sturt University. Amy studied the Graduate Certificate in University Leadership and Management while balancing full-time work and two children.

As mothers to small children, they get it. It was a big decision for them. But it was a decision that paid off. Take five to hear from both women, as they give you some sage advice about returning to study as a postgrad student.

Flexibility is key when returning to study

When most people decide to take on postgraduate study, it’s often at a time of their life when they have a lot of other stuff going on. Babies, marriage, full-time work – there’s plenty to juggle, as Laura explains.

“When I initially wanted to undertake my MBA, I did quite a lot of research. I had a look at lots of different unis, particularly online ones. I narrowed it down to a couple of choices, but I found that a lot of the courses were very rigid.”

“The reason I chose Charles Sturt was because they were so flexible and had a huge range of subjects on offer.

“A lot of other unis market themselves as super flexible, but I found that wasn’t actually the case. Some MBAs had a compulsory night school each semester – which isn’t really flexible for someone with a newborn baby. The fact that Charles Sturt’s MBA was 100 per cent online was a game-changer for me.

“I also really liked that there were lots of specialisations to pick from, as well as electives. I had the option to choose subjects that aligned with where I wanted to take my career, and to choose subjects I was truly interested in. It was a bonus that I could use my subject selection to play to my strengths, while actually furthering my career at the same time.”

Support is always available – make sure you use it!

When you study with Charles Sturt University – support is a big part of the package. And the support we provide is something Amy Felke knows all about.

“The support I received while studying with Charles Sturt was second to none.

“The main form of support I leaned on while studying was the academic or study support. My favourite was the assignment feedback service. It was really easy – and really helpful. I would draft my assessment, send it off for review and the academic support team would come back with insights and feedback to help me improve my work. On a few occasions, this resulted in me getting better marks – which I was pretty happy about!”

There’s a range of other support services available for postgraduate students returning to study. Aside from academic support, you can access the library, career advice and 24/7 IT support. We’ve also got a childcare centre on some of our campuses.

The bottom line? Don’t worry. We’ve got your back. We’ll make it work together.

Manage your time wisely (but don’t push yourself too hard)

Time management. You’re either a boss at it – or you’re a procrastinator. Guess which one you need to be to succeed at postgrad study? I think we all know…

Laura is one of those boss chicks that has nailed her time management skills.

“I’m really lucky that my daughter has always been a good sleeper. So every day I know that I have at least two hours to get my stuff done. I’ve become better at allocating my time so I get a little bit of work done more often – whereas before I had my baby, I would power through four or five hours straight. But because my time is so limited now, I have no choice. I have to make it work. Every spare minute is valuable, so procrastination is not an option.”

Amy also managed her time well and graduated with flying colours.

“My advice to postgraduate students thinking about returning to study would be: the subject outline is your best friend.

“When it’s released – it’s time to get organised! I mapped out when all my assessments were due, got a head start on the readings and planned out the next few months. I would often begin my study before the session began and I would choose to work through the mid-session break in order to give myself a bit of a time-buffer (in case unexpected things cropped up).

“It’s the most common advice in the world when it comes to study, but don’t leave things to the last minute. You’ll only wind up stressed out.”

Know what it’s going to cost – and budget accordingly

Uni study can be costly. But at Charles Sturt University, we’re making education affordable for everyone. Because we see that everyone has potential to make this world a better place. And we don’t want the cost of study to hold you back.

For Laura, the cost of her MBA was a deciding factor in choosing the right uni for her.

“One of the factors in choosing Charles Sturt University was the fact that it was a bit cheaper than other unis. When you look at some of the fees at metro unis – some subjects were over $4000 each, whereas Charles Sturt University’s are about $3200.”

Every little bit counts, so make sure you weigh up the cost of attending a regional or a metro uni. We think you’ll be pleasantly surprised at what we can offer you in the finance department at Charles Sturt University.

Ready to take the postgrad plunge?

Smart choice. We can’t wait to have you. Check out our range of postgraduate courses – or make an appointment to speak with a friendly adviser to go through your options.