11 May 2015

Enriching Yourself with a Higher Degree

For all the talk about getting a postgraduate degree to make yourself more employable, many still continue to pursue postgraduate studies in highly niche and esoteric areas that are a far cry from the professional postgraduate degrees in areas such as accounting or finance.

A Master of Arts in Ancient History and Late Antique and Byzantine Studies could not sound more different from a Master of Professional Accounting. While the latter aims to convey direct skills that its students will be able to apply on the job, the benefit of the former is not immediately clear from a career perspective. 

Never judge the merits of a postgraduate degree based solely on potential on-the-job benefits. Postgraduate degrees in areas such as ancient history or renaissance studies may not appear to make one more employable at first glance, but they are rich sources of personal fulfilment, upgrading and learning. And just because they don’t appear to benefit your career does not mean that they will not, and postgraduate students in a variety of niche academic fields go on to acquire valuable research and critical-thinking skills and gain the satisfaction of expanding their knowledge in their area of interest.

Studying for Yourself
If education is all about securing a higher salary or quicker career progression, then we live in very sorry times indeed. The pursuit of a higher degree isn’t just about becoming more marketable – instead, it should provide an avenue for fresh graduates and mid-career professionals alike to enrich their minds and pursue their interests.

Above all, you should take up a postgraduate degree for yourself. A higher degree will give fresh graduates greater opportunities and avenues to embark on exciting learning journeys and build on their undergraduate education. For those who possess an unquenchable thirst for knowledge, a more advanced degree will offer them immense fulfilment and fresh perspectives.

And for mid-career professionals, it is an excellent opportunity for them to go back to school and relive the simple comforts of student life, where the sole purpose of learning is simply to accrue knowledge. If you put off your postgraduate studies as a fresh graduate because of the opportunity cost, now’s a good time to pick up where you left off as you’re more stable financially.

The Sheer Benefit of Learning
In addition, postgraduate degrees offer students the chance to conduct independent research or in-depth study in an area of their choosing. Postgraduate theses can span up to 80 pages in length, and students will pick up important writing, analytical and organisational skills in the process.

The academic rigour of a postgraduate degree cannot be understated. Even if your postgraduate degree does not equip you directly for your job, you will still come away with broad-based skills and a renewed sense of intellectual independence that will stand you in good stead anywhere.

Knowledge is food for the mind, and regardless of which arcane circle of academia you choose to pursue your postgraduate degree in, you’ll always be better off with more knowledge and richer learning experiences.

Knowledge as the End Goal
We want to encourage you to learn for the sake of learning. While it’s probably unwise to entirely discard practical considerations such as the financial cost and your career, you should not be discouraged from pursuing a postgraduate degree just because it appears less practical.

Dare to pursue your interests to the furthest corners of academia, and prepare to be pleasantly surprised by the intangible benefits you will gain. Of course, it certainly doesn’t hurt to be able to add a higher qualification to your résumé as testament to your continual pursuit of knowledge and upgrading!