Pursuing a master’s degree after a long break can be challenging. Returning to studies after working for a few years is both exciting and overwhelming. On the one hand, you feel delighted and pumped because of all the career prospects a master’s degree will bring. But you might feel a little apprehensive and anxious because of the time and effort it might require.
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It might feel like you have lost your academic capabilities and just can’t keep up with that life anymore. It’s hard to get into that studying mode again, and you might have second thoughts about pursuing a master’s degree if there is a big gap after your bachelor’s. In addition, it might seem daunting with 180 credits to finish, textbooks, journal articles, and course material to study and prepare for an exam, along with your job and adult life responsibilities.
The good news is there are plenty of ways to prepare you to get into learning mode – and make studying a more enjoyable process for you. Here are five tips to help you prepare for your master’s program after a long break from university.
1. Choose an Online Degree
Once you have decided to return to university to climb the career ladder and get a salary raise, do proper research on which course to choose and which university to select. Then, conduct thorough market research to determine whether your degree can help you get the career advancement you are after.
If you are pursuing a master’s degree with a full-time job or business, or have family responsibilities, choosing a traditional on-campus program might not be ideal for you. In this case, opt for an online degree course. The Arkansas State online master’s programs offer high-quality online education and the freedom and flexibility of online studying. They offer a wide range and number of courses to choose from depending on your field. In addition, the tuition costs are affordable and financial aids are available for candidates pursuing accelerated online programs.
Additionally, look into all the admission requirements for application. Few graduate degrees like medicine and law might require an MCAT, LSAT, or GRE. Be sure to take care of all these requirements before applying.
2. Get in touch with current students
It’s always best to check what you are putting yourself into. As a prospective student, get in touch with current students. Take the information about the coursework, learning strategies, typical everyday schedules, and workload they manage. Know about the co-curricular, added-credits, and extracurricular activities of your university. Find out the job prospects and career benefits the degree will bring.
Talking with current students will also help you build a support network for yourself during your master’s. Knowing their experience and input would be fruitful for your career. There are different platforms where you can reach out to current students. You can check the university’s Facebook groups or LinkedIn profiles to get more information.
3. Understand your study patterns
A master’s course will be very different from high school or your bachelor’s. You now not only have added responsibilities, but the coursework would also be more challenging to get through. So, your old studying techniques and patterns might not work here. With several books, articles, journals, and course papers to skim through, you will have to find a new approach to your studies. Put in some time to figure out what works best for you. Understand this will take time, and be patient with yourself.
Go through the resources list provided to you by the programs to get an idea of the course. Then, read the program structure, course content, and reference books. It will help you build a routine, understand what you will be studying the whole semester, and decide how to dedicate time to different subjects accordingly.
Whether you prefer using digital apps for taking notes or writing them by hand, making flashcards and using spaced repetitions has been proven an effective way to retain information for a long time. Another tip is to find the time of the day when you are focused and most productive. Create a dedicated study area to limit distractions. Use a focus app or Pomodoro technique to enhance concentration.
4. Create a schedule and get into a routine
Creating a schedule and being disciplined in following it is a simple formula for academic success. Getting back to your education, with deadlines and exams to prepare for, can overwhelm you. But setting a schedule and a plan will help you get in control of your time. It will minimize anxiety levels, regulate your emotions, and keep you on top of things in case of delays.
You can keep a planner or diary or create an online calendar and note all your important dates and deadlines, with weekly and monthly tasks. Then create a daily to-do list and tick off everything you have achieved at the end of the day.
5. Maintain a work/life balance to avoid burnout
When you return to studying, it can be tempting to immerse yourself completely in the learning process, especially if you enjoy your studies. Therefore, creating a work/life balance is essential to avoid burnout. It will especially help you if you are doing a full-time job. Create boundaries between your work mode, studying mode, and relaxation mode. Make sure to take out some time for exercise and relaxation. Have a learning-free day to re-energize yourself.
Getting back to studying requires a lot of commitment and dedication but be mindful of your physical and mental health. Get enough sleep to function properly. Eat a healthy balanced diet, and exercise regularly to keep your mind and body fit.
Try to gather meaningful personal life experiences along the way as well. Spend time with family, catch up with friends, listen to your favorite podcast, watch new movies, and work on yourself. Remember, a balanced life is a happy life.
Starting a new degree after a long break might seem intimidating at first. But it’s important to be kind to yourself during this journey. Celebrate small victories and avoid putting too much pressure on yourself. Remind yourself of all the benefits it will bring to you. The tips above will help you keep your head high and get back to studying!