Around this time last year I made the decision to apply for my masters in Ireland. A lot had happened in a short space of time as I’ve mentioned before and in all honesty, me applying for my masters was a very spur of the moment kind of thing and as the months followed, I thought more and more about my decision and decided to be smart and come up with a plan B just in case things didn’t work out.
Granted, I’m pretty good at planning, if I wasn’t, I’d have really struggled to overcome certain barriers so I thought it would be good to give a few pointers on the situations you may face!
1. Choose to study for the right reasons
Depending on where and what you study, you’re going to pay anything between £5.5-10,000 just for the masters never mind your accommodation.
I chose to study so I could start afresh, be close to my parents and to get another degree that showed off my academic skills and to back up the experience I already had. I also didn’t want to grow up just yet…
At the moment, nothing annoys me more than being put in groups with people that don’t care. There are people that have clearly been sponsored or had some kind of help and they don’t seem to be too bothered about wasting money on a degree. Okay then.
2. Choose a university that ranks higher than your current uni
I went to Sheffield Hallam University. Although it isn’t classed as a red brick university (which frankly I was never bothered by), it’s a good uni for business. When it came to choosing my masters, I wanted a uni that was recognised around the world as I wanted the option to work anywhere I wanted.
If I’d have stayed at Hallam I’d have received a discount on my fees as one of their old students and it did tempt me till I realised that tuition fee’s in Ireland are actually cheaper and that some businesses still look and judge you based on the uni you go to. I was lucky to be in the position where along side my degree, I had extensive work experience. Most people don’t have that experience so a university like Queens definitely makes you look better.
3. If you’re going to get a job, start looking now and use the right tools
A lot of good graduate programmes hire very early on. For some programmes, now’s too late but there are still plenty options out there. If you’re not already using tools like LinkedIn then get yourself signed up! There are
so many scouts (I think that’s what you call them) out there that are paid to find people to fill job roles. I was lucky enough to be approached by a few of these people and it meant that I didn’t actually have to go out and search for jobs myself, they came to me! Funnily enough, as I’ve been writing this blog, I’ve just been emailed by one.
4. If you didn’t move out for university the first time, now’s your chance
When I started studying at Hallam I stayed in Sheffield (where I grew up and still around my friends) and lived at home the first year. To the reluctance of my parents, I moved out just after first year. I was already quite independent but having my own place and my own routine was great. It didn’t equate however to moving all the way to Belfast. Because I lived alone in Sheffield, I had to uproot my whole life. Moving out is scary but try moving out, moving to a different country, having no friends around you and starting in a new place of work.
Having Sean and my parents here helped a lot because the adjustment in reality was hard. I was also lucky I got to transfer stores at work. It was a new environment but at least I knew what I was doing. All being said, I’ve loved the experience of moving and making new friends. It’s taught me that there’s so much more out there. It’s taught me who I can rely on in life, how easily I can adjust to change and its taught me just how resilient and strong I can be!
5. Student finance may now offer masters students loans but they’re still no help
As of September 2016, student finance started to offer masters students up to £10,000. The goodness is that it doesn’t go on your parents income like it did before. For me, I took the whole £10,000 and knew I’d have to work to raise another £2,500 just to cover the rest of my tuition/accommodation fees and then the rest of my pay would cover my living expenses. At least that’s how it should have worked.
I realised early on that student finance wanted to pay us in three installments but these installments came after my accommodation or uni needed their payments. When I rang student finance they were no help. I rang uni in a panic and they were no help too. All I needed them to do was change my schedule so it aligned with student finance. Eventually I had to get an extra loan which I’ll have to pay back in a few months to cover the awkward cross overs. What makes it worse is that uni messed up my direct debits and when I went to sort it spoke to someone who then told me uni should have arranged the payments to align with student finance but it was too little too late!
For those of you that may encounter such a problem, make sure you persist with uni. They can take your tuition fees at any time during the year as long as you give them something to show you’ll pay.
6. No matter what you decide, plan ahead and save more than you think you need
Moving my whole life cost me so much money! If my parents were still in Sheffield I could have left most things and just taken a suite case but I didn’t have that choice. As time went on I kept finding extra costs like having to pay for parking at my accommodation!
Even if you decide to work, there are costs like council tax (if you live in England) and finally having to pay for a TV license that you need to account for and that can be quite costly!
Anyway, this is getting a bit long but I hope it helps!