There are all kinds of very good reasons to get stuck into postgrad; refining your skills, changing careers, networking, bulking up the CV. And, of course, feeling all high and mighty – swanning around the house and calling yourself ‘Dr.’ (ignore all those family members trying to remind you it’s a graduate certificate, they’re just jealous).  

But it might sometimes feel as if there are just as many reasons not to. There’s the commitment, the workload. The parts that make you wonder, deep in Shower Thought, ‘Wait a minute… is this a terrible idea?’. Are you ready? Can you afford it? Weren’t you thinking of going off-grid and just hiking for a few years like Reese Witherspoon in that movie? 

Look, we can’t help with the hiking dilemma (sounds quite good, really), but we can help with the other stuff. Because not everything you think you know about postgrad study is all-the-way true. And we’re about to bust some myths.

Hang in there, baby!

Myth: Postgrad is expensive, and I’ll have to grit my teeth and deal with the cost.

Truth: Not necessarily. You might not know it, but there are just about as many financial support systems for studying postgrad as there are for undergrad. Just like with undergrad, there are postgraduate courses that have ‘Commonwealth Supported Places’ (CSP), like architectureprimary and secondary teaching, and engineering. CSP means the government pays for part of the course cost, and you don’t have to pay it back – and you can even pay your portion with a HECS-HELP loan. If the course you have your heart set on doesn’t offer CSP, you can always apply for FEE-HELP

There are also other options to reduce the cost of your course generally, like studying a graduate certificate or diploma, or by undertaking micro units (more on them soon), which are less of a commitment and offer pathways into bigger degrees. Did you know you can get a loan for a graduate certificate? Or a scholarship to study postgrad? Or that if your levelling up is going to benefit your employer, you can talk to them about covering the cost? Out point? There are options abounds.

Myth: I need a Bachelor of Something to do postgrad study.

Truth: Yes, it’s true that generally when applying to study postgrad you might be expected to have an undergrad degree. But at Swinburne, we take into account any work experience and prior learning that might be relevant to your area of study. So you can go straight from having a certificate, to a master degree.  

The tech-rich future is waiting

Need help skilling up for it? Apply to the uni that knows tech.

Myth: I’ll have to give up my life, and my family and friends will be fighting for my time.

Truth: Postgrad study is a challenge, there’s no tip-toeing around that – how weird would it be if getting your masters was easy? But it doesn’t have to be an unhealthy, push-you-to-your-very-limits, might-as-well-have-gone-on-Survivor type of challenge. Fit your study schedule around your life, with flexible learning – nights, weekends – and block delivery (also known as 'intensives'), which often means classes are taught in fully-catered day and half-day blocks on Fridays, Saturdays and after hours. Giving you the space to study when suits you. 

Hot tip: if you’re employed and your study area is related to your job, talk to your workplace about fitting study into your work schedule – or, even better, taking paid study leave.  

Myth: I’ll be locked in for two whole years of hard slog.

Truth: Maybe! If you’re really enjoying yourself, it might even be longer. It’s important to remember that if this is something you want to go after, you might find yourself in a year or two thinking ‘I’d be done by now’. Expecting your life to open up and make room for postgrad is a nice thought, but it might never happen that way. Here’s the good news: it’s up to you how much time you spend on your postgrad study.  

Micro-units are like courses broken down and delivered thick and fast over one day, followed by some offline individual work. And most graduate certificates can be over and done in just six or twelve months, and still look just as shiny on the CV. (And if you really want to print ‘Call Me Dr.’ on a t-shirt, we promise to look the other way.)  

And if you’re interested in change-making and kicking off your own thing someday, why not take a look at our Australian Graduate School of Entrepreneurship courses – you could have two master degrees under your belt in just two years, like with the Double Master of Professional Accounting and Financial Planning.  

You can totally do this.  Credit: Courtesy of Warner Bros

Myth: What if I drop out, and lose all that hard work?

Truth: Postgrad isn’t like other areas of study – we know how hard you work and how much the qualification means to you. That’s why, when you leave a master degree earlier than you planned, you don’t leave without a qualification. Depending on your progress, you might leave with a graduate certificate or a graduate diploma! If that still feels daunting, scale back the commitment. Shorter courses and micro-units can lead to further study and bigger awards when and if you’re ready, so starting small doesn’t mean finishing small.  

Postgrad isn’t – or doesn’t have to be – the age-old scary story; buried in books, time poor, sleep-deprived, and unanswered texts piling up by the minute. There will be times when it’s tough, but it’s true what they say: nothing good comes easy. Except maybe microwave popcorn. 

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