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How to find time for postgraduate study

Does finding time for postgraduate study seem like a pipe dream? Between work, family and having a passable social life, you might already feel pretty flat out. So how on earth can you squeeze in time to study? It can be done! Want proof? More than 12,000 students are fitting postgrad into busy lives right now (and that’s just at Deakin!) Here’s how they’re doing it.

Finding the time

Dr Vittoria Grossi from Deakin’s Student Academic Support Services says if postgraduate study is important to you, you can make it work by adjusting your priorities, and of course knowing what expect. ‘No matter what your competing demands are, it is possible to fit in study,’ Dr Grossi says.

  • Explore flexible study options
    Get familiar with the mix of flexible study options on offer to find one that works for you. You can choose to move between full-time and part-time study to suit your job or nip a unit in the bud during annual leave with intensive study blocks. Some units offer night classes to make juggling a business-hours job easier. And, there’s Deakin’s Cloud Campus, which you can attend from home, work or the beach.
  • Make it work –  at work
    Are you already working in your field? Consider pitching postgraduate study to your boss as professional development. Ask for time off to attend a class, or a few hours a week to study during work time. It doesn’t hurt to ask — having workplace support can make a difference.
  • Use your existing skills
    Do you currently split your time between work, family, friends, fitness and more? Congratulations! You’re already proficient in scheduling. Put your existing time-juggling skills to work. Dr Grossi says returning to uni can be daunting, but if you consider your life skills, you’re already ahead. ‘If you’re managing a lot of things — full-time job, kids, social life — you are very busy but that means you’re organised already.’

Make the time count

Once you’ve found time for study, make it count. There are endless apps and calendars to help you plan (Deakin’s weekly planner is particularly good). But, these tools are only as good as the information you put in, so it’s time for some self-reflection.

  • Know yourself
    Are you a procrastinator? Can you pull off a long study session or do you work best in concentrated bursts? Reflect on your own personal way of studying, advises Dr Grossi. ‘You have to know yourself and how you tackle things. Take into account how you study.’
  • Be realistic
    Know your unit outlines inside out. When it comes to planning your time, you need to have a good handle on what’s required for each unit. It’s important to have a realistic understanding of what’s expected of you, and to know your limitations — for example, if you’re new to research, allow extra time for assessments with a large research component.
  • Be proactive
    Recognise when you’re feeling confused. Don’t be afraid to ask questions so that you stay on track. As Dr Grossi notes, ‘The key thing is not to get behind in understanding the topic, because it all builds up. If something’s not clear, speak to someone as early as possible to clarify.’

Don’t go it alone

There’s a network of support in place to help you return to university and use your time efficiently.

  • Study Support
    Lean on Student Support for advice – that’s what they’re there for. Book to see a language and learning adviser for personalised help with writing assessments and planning your trimester. They will help you identify pressure points in your calendar and give you tips on managing the busiest times.
  • Peer mentors
    Find out from fellow students how they’re making postgrad study work for them. Book a mentor meet-up and bring your burning questions along.
  • Online resources
    Hit the ground running with a just-launched orientation course made especially for new postgraduate students. Preparing to Succeed is a short online course that will give you a confident start to your studies. Deakin’s website has tonnes of valuable resources: have a good look through Study Support for an essential overview and visit Study Corner regularly for helpful study advice.

With some good old-fashioned planning and Deakin’s flexible study options, you can find the time for postgraduate study and prepare for a career leap.

Looking to start a postgraduate degree in 2018? Check out course options and how to apply for Trimester 2, to start in July at Deakin.

Worried about the cost of going back to uni? Check out some top tips on how to make postgraduate study affordable

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Dr Vittoria Grossi
Dr Vittoria Grossi

Team Leader, Student Academic Support Services, Deakin University

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