Common Postgrad Myths

The path to a postgraduate degree is fraught with myths and half-truths at every turn. Jaideep Patel clears the way by separating the fictional from the fact.
Jaideep Patel
Publisher, postgradasia
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“Having a postgraduate qualification guarantees higher salaries.”

The short answer to this is ‘no’. Before embarking on this journey, you should ask yourself why you want to do this in the first place. For most, it gives them the chance to be experts within a specific area of study – which may prove invaluable in the working world (or not). Ultimately, you should only take on a postgraduate degree if you have the dream of becoming an authority in your field, instead of worrying about automatically earning a bigger paycheck later on.

“Remaining a student is freedom from the working world.”

Err, not really. You should never see a postgraduate course as an escape from your responsibilities as an adult. The truth is that the postgraduate lifestyle is a whole lot more like working life than it may seem. There is a lot of planning and time management involved. Not to mention, the question of who pays for your fees and expenses – and that includes rental if you’re living away from home. The good news is that there are an abundance of study loans and scholarships you can apply for.

“Postgraduate study is less stressful than undergraduate study.”

Wrong again. Taking on a postgraduate course, even on a part-time basis, means that you will have to juggle many different things into your schedule. In between the time spent attending lectures, conferring with your supervisor and working on your thesis, you will need to carve out precious time for yourself and your loved ones. If you’re doing your course on a part-time basis, you still have your work in the office to take care of, while adapting to the postgraduate life. 

“Doing this is a long and lonely road.”

It’s only so if you think it so. Understandably, university life during your undergraduate years was very different than what you will experience as a postgrad student. Sure, you will not have as many friends around, but this is the perfect opportunity for you to make some new acquaintances especially with your new coursemates. Having like-minded souls who share your trials and tribulations around you will be your greatest source of motivation and strength. 

“No one likes hiring people with postgraduate qualifications.”

Not true. The main issue here is that many postgraduate candidates think that they are entitled to a higher position as soon as they clinch their postgraduate degrees. While this may hold true in certain industries, it is not the hard and fast rule across the board. If you have the interest and determination to pursue a higher qualification, you should commit to it 100%. When the time comes for you to make a return to the working world, take the time to explain your reasons for pursuing a postgraduate degree to your future employer.

“Obtaining a postgraduate degree will further limit my career options.”

This couldn’t be further from the truth. During your postgraduate course, you will be exposed to a whole network of experts within your field of research. You can even see this as a chance to uproot yourself from your existing surroundings, and put yourself in a completely new environment which could beckon new professional opportunities. At the same time, you will be sharpening your research and writing abilities, which are important skills to have in almost any industry.