Contemplating postgraduate study? Do your research at an Open Evening

As I mentioned previously, making the choice to go back into education and taking up postgraduate study was one that took me a couple of years to do in the end. Whilst I was trying to decide where I wanted to take my life, I was working full time and doing some research alongside that into what benefits a postgraduate degree would actually offer me, as well as where exactly I would want to study for that degree. 

A vital part of that process was attending a Postgraduate Open Evening at Plymouth University. Initially I’d largely done all my research online, going to various university websites and searching for the kind of programmes that interested me (Planning, Urban Planning and Spatial Planning were the degrees I was searching for myself). Where I found institutions that looked good to me, I might also order a prospectus from them too - so that I could get as much info as possible to make my decision. Eventually, for various reasons the MSc Planning programme at Plymouth really began to stand out to me. It was predominantly the place I visualised myself studying against the list of other places I’d narrowed my choices down to.

Once I’d come down to that point of seriously considering coming back to Plymouth to do my masters, I booked onto the Open Evening. I’d spent four years at Plymouth previously on my undergraduate so it wasn’t that I wanted to visit the campus itself, but of course that’s one valuable opportunity you can make the most of on one of these events, where you’ll have student ambassadors on hand giving tours of the campus and facilities on offer. Personally I felt like I needed to speak to the academics leading the programme first-hand, to hear what they had to say and to ask the questions concerning the things which I was still unsure of. There’s only so much one can glean from the information on the webpages or in the university prospectus and there were queries about the degree which I needed an answer to before I felt I could make my mind up.

So the Open Evening is your chance to go along to a talk about your degree and speak to your lecturers face-to-face. You will learn more about the programme, the way you will study, the way you’ll be assessed and what you can expect throughout your time. There’s also a host of support services who will have stands at the event and be on hand to talk to about any other concerns you might be having about postgrad study, from financing your studies, to careers and employability advice, to disability assistance and help with finding accommodation in the city. Current students were on hand too and you can question them as much as anyone else to find out about the realities of studying at the University too.

For me, the Open Evening was where I made up my mind that coming back to Plymouth to study was the right decision to make. The academics were able to answer the nagging concerns I still had, and the genuine enthusiasm they seemed to have for the MSc Planning degree and for its benefits in helping me towards a strong and meaningful career was something I really connected with. Conversely however, if it had gone the other way and the answers to my concerns made me realise the programme were perhaps not for me, going along to the Open Evening and experiencing what postgraduate study at Plymouth would be like first-hand, is a really helpful step towards making that decision either way.