Some thoughts on postgraduate education

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Sometimes I wonder if postgraduate education could help me with my career goals. This blog post doesn’t end with a yes or no, but it does consider some pros and cons of more learning.

Knowledge and recognition

One of my future career goals to write for trade magazines and websites, which is somewhat journalistic. I turned my attention to postgraduate journalism courses and stories from those studying them.

There’s one graduate who wrote for business-to-business magazines after finishing her degree. While she was editing an article, she spotted an error that she felt she wouldn’t have spotted without the additional education. “If I’d had no knowledge of media law, I don’t know if I’d have even understood why the statement was defamatory in the first place,” she said.

So that’s one thing I’d definitely get out of a postgraduate degree: more knowledge, which could be useful to know in the long-term. Another thing I could get it is recognition from employers.

I once applied for a job editing newspaper articles, and I quickly had a response from the recruiter asking me if I had a qualification approved by the National Council for the Training of Journalists. Apparently this is something a lot of local papers would like you to have.

I said I didn’t. When I asked if this was essential they said no, but they would be considering applicants with the qualification before those without it. I never heard from that recruiter again, so I’m thinking there’s a good chance the job went to someone with the qualification.

Money, money, money

A huge anxiety I have with returning to education is the financial cost. Postgraduate courses cost around the £9,000 mark, and I’d have to start paying that money back a month after I finish the course, no matter what my career situation is. There’s no guarantee I’d get a job in writing after the course, so I could spend all that money for nothing.

I don’t think it takes a postgraduate degree to show an editor I understand their publication’s audience. Pitching ideas to them can do this, and with enough perseverance I can get some portfolio-building experience which can look just as a good on a CV as an industry-approved qualification.

Another worry I have with returning to education is going back to a ‘sheltered’ environment. Personal experience has taught me things are always friendlier at university than in the world of employment, and university achievements mean more at university than they do outside of it.

Going into employment after finishing my undergraduate degree and getting brutal feedback for my work was a shock, and I’m concerned about repeating this process.

Taking the risk

Getting more education could always teach me a couple of things about professional writing that could help me out in the long-term, and I love being in a learning environment. Plus, some industry-approved qualifications look good to employers.

But I am concerned with the financial cost of additional learning, and the fact there’s no guarantee I’d get a job at the end of my studies. The only way of knowing if postgraduate education is worth it is to do it, and in doing so take a risk.

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