The Benefits of Further Study

If you are thinking of undertaking further study, whether it is to improve in your chosen field, change fields or just learn a new skill, I highly recommend it. My loved ones would tell you (as they roll their eyes) that my endorsement comes as no surprise, since I am a relentless advocate for continual self improvement, and the improvement of those around me (much to their dismay).

When I first started postgraduate study, I didn’t realise that there would be so many aspects I was going to enjoy. So now that I have two small bouts of post-grad learning behind me and am about to commence my MBA, here are some benefits I have experienced which may help you make up your mind.

5523977161_a014874d72_oYou come to embrace continuous learning
Plenty of people have said to me “Good on you for starting your MBA, I always wanted to but I dread the idea of studying again, I enjoy my spare time.” In this regard, time is like money. If I get used to having too much of it, it’s harder to make a lifestyle adjustment when I lose it all again. Plus, I like to keep busy. By undertaking further study, I’m keeping my mind open to new concepts and ideas, whilst retaining and/or developing the ability to absorb information for long periods of time. It doesn’t have to be a masters degree, it could be a photography course or learning a new language. I find that my work activities are very reactive or deadline driven, so I need to train my mind to be receptive to proactive learning.

You get better at your day job
Regardless of whether the further study relates directly back to your day job or not, it is highly likely that you will be able to utilise some part of the experience and learning. It could simply be the added confidence or boost to your mood because you are pursuing studies that you’re excited about, or that your newly acquired knowledge lends a fresh perspective. I work in a compliance and operations function and am very excited to see elective topics offered through the MBA such as Risk Management and Project Management. But even better will be the topics that I’m not so familiar with, at least theoretically, such as Data Analysis and People Management.

You actually want to be there
There are a lot of pressures moving from secondary school to tertiary studies and for most of us, there is an expectation that we complete University. So, at the age of 17 or 18 we are expected to make a decision on a bachelors degree which could potentially set the course for our working lives. So we do, and we show up and do the work. But everybody’s still figuring out adulthood, Uni’s a party and most people haven’t actually entered the professional workforce yet. I know I certainly didn’t devote the appropriate time and effort towards my bachelors, and feel that I could have done a lot better.

The difference with further study is that you’re more experienced and wiser, and (hopefully) you’ve come to the decision on your own and actually want to be there. You’re doing it for yourself, you’re motivated and you’re more realistic about what you’re going to get out of it. When you’re in this mindset, you’re more likely to extract value and a return on investment from your study.

Pre-School_GraduationYou build your social and professional networks
The fact that you and others, actually want to be there brings me nicely to the next point. Personally, I think that undertaking a course off campus via an online mode robs you of a major benefit; meeting like-minded people and building your professional network. I believe that if you’re going to commit yourself financially to further study, you’re going to see more value if you attend in person. Of course, many people said the same thing about my undergraduate studies, however I wouldn’t reverse my decision to work full-time instead, so really it comes down to an individual’s objectives.

I found that my social circle reduced the further I got into my twenties, and that it was harder to make new friends outside of work. I met a wonderful group of friends through my practical legal training course and it was extremely beneficial to have a support network to firstly get through the course and secondly to navigate the legal industry together. These people were in the same boat as me, they were passionate about their careers and were juggling full-time work and part-time study. It has now been 3 months since the course finished and we continue to send one other job advertisements and invitations to networking events, in addition to arranging purely social catch-ups. These friends work in various organisations of differing size and industry throughout Melbourne, and it’s never a bad thing to have a diverse network.

Your CV will thank you for itΒ 
Further study demonstrates drive, a commitment to self improvement, good time management and intellect, among many other things. In my experience, if you are applying for a position where the qualification is not a prerequisite but rather an advantage, it’s hardly a deal breaker that you haven’t completed the course, but an indication of your potential and self motivation that you are working towards it.

Of course there are some caveats, for one, I question the merit of launching straight into postgraduate study without having first accumulated work experience, for example completing a bachelor of laws and launching straight into a masters of law. Again, it really is up to the individual’s circumstances and objectives. Also, weighing up how you see the study bettering your life and you as a person is important because in most cases, there is a significant financial and time commitment to be made.

I will have to write the ‘Negatives of Further Study’ post in the near future, but *spoiler alert* the good definitely outweighs the bad.

That Career Girl

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17 comments

  1. Ah this is all so true! I’m near the end of an Early Years Foundation Degree, but am thinking of taking up a journalism course soon after I finish! My boyfriend has just started studying again, as he was at a point of “not sure what to do with my life”, and found further education in a topic he adores!
    Woop go adult learning! (Does that phrasing make it sound lame?)

  2. Another great post, and very timely if I may say so. I am aware in my current state that I need a lot of training and andvanced education on being a writer and optometrist. I envy those who have the means to gain extra knowledge on their field. If I have the right resources, I would definitely enroll in grammar and copywriting courses.

    1. I think the fact that you are blogging will do wonders for your writing. I never really considered my own writing as a form of expression (rather just a necessary means of communication) until I started blogging.

  3. I love this blog! After many years, I changed my career. Although a MBA was not required, I thought it would really help me grow. Wow, I am learning so much. Thanks for a great read.

  4. Thank you so much, that post could not have come at better time for me.
    Especially the part of wanting to actually be there. I am still doubting my decision to pursue a full-time masters degree after having completetd my bachelor part-time whilst working.

    I think I should write this as a mantra in a prominent place to remind myself that I have actively choosen this and want to pursue this degree, despite the financial set back and enjoy Uni life including the parties and all. πŸ™‚

    Please keep up your amazing writing!

    XXX Moi

  5. I’m doing an MRes part time from September with a view to becoming a lecturer… after I finish my Ph.D of course πŸ™‚ Is the MBA as expensive in Australia as the UK? Most people here would pay in excess of Β£15k!

    1. The MBA can definitely be expensive but it depends on which school. There are a few offerings under $20K AU however the one I am doing is $75K AU. Wow, that is an impressive study path!

  6. Hi Career Girl – I included this strong post in my weekly #BestBlogs curation coming out tomorrow 21 Feb. Just wanted you to know – keep writing!

  7. Great, great post! I think without continued learning and educating, we can easily become obsolete…especially in today’s fast moving and ever changing world. Best of luck with your MBA! It will be an intense but very rewarding journey! =o)

  8. Further studies and finances need to be balanced with future potential payoff.

    Taking on (substantial) student loan debt to finance further studies in a field with uncertain payoffs probably isn’t a good reason to go into debt.

    One must conduct their due diligence before taking on further studies πŸ™‚

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