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How to Balance Work, Life, and Postgraduate Study

How to Balance Work, Life, and Postgraduate Study

by Lydia Prentice

When I decided to head back to university after taking a year out from studying, I felt worried about how I would settle back into student life.

I hadn’t had to write an essay or attend classes in over a year, I didn’t know if the workload would be much bigger than at undergrad, and I was apprehensive about how I would juggle studying, finding a source of income and, of course, having a social life.

But, after completing two semesters as a postgraduate student, I found that it was simpler than I expected, and I hope that I can offer some helpful tips to any students that are returning to studies after some time away from university, and who are maybe concerned about how they will be able to balance everything.


Take weekends off

My first tip for maintaining sanity whilst doing a master’s is to take weekends off from studying.

This may not always be possible if some weeks you have more commitments than others, especially as your postgraduate studies may require more work than you're used to. But, in general, you should do your best to delegate time specifically for recharging your batteries.

If you are able to have the weekends for yourself, you will feel more refreshed during the week, and better equipped to produce high-quality work.


Find work opportunities within the university

Before starting at Newcastle University, I knew that I would need to find some kind of job in order to fund myself, especially as postgraduate student loans are much smaller than undergraduate.

But, I felt that working a regular part-time job would be too stressful during term time, when I’d have a lot of university work to do. However, I found various opportunities to make money on campus, such as becoming a student ambassador, and helping my teachers with undergraduate classes.

This meant that I was able to work around my studies, as the university is obviously more understanding of study commitments than a job in the city centre would be and so the hours and expectations are more flexible. There are loads of job opportunities within the university, so definitely check them out!


Get involved in societies and find time to socialise

It may be necessary for you to find a form of income during your time at university, but be sure not to take on too many hours, as this could result in having very little time to make friends and socialise.

For me, the best part of being a student is being able to join societies, meeting like-minded people, and having plenty of time for a social life. So, if there is a particular hobby you want to take up or continue societies are a great place to have fun and make friends.

Or, if societies aren’t your thing, you may want to attend postgraduate events or reach out to course mates or flatmates, as this might be your last chance to fully take enjoy the student lifestyle.


Don’t take on more than you can manage

Whilst it may be important for you to get involved in student life, work a part-time job, and sign up to every opportunity that comes your way, at the end of the day, as a student, your studies and your health are your main priorities. So, it’s important to not bite off more than you can chew, otherwise you may begin to feel overwhelmed.

It might be best to first figure out how much time your studies require, and then decide if you have time to find a job, whilst also having time for a social life.

Overall, at times it can be difficult to juggle uni work, having a job, and maintaining a social life, especially during essay/exam season. But, just be sure not to overwork or put too much pressure on yourself, and find some time to spend with friends, as, at the end of the day, your happiness and mental well being is the most important thing.

It may take a little getting used to going back to university life, but I personally have loved being a student again! Good luck, and enjoy returning to university. For more advice on postgraduate studies, why not read Kristina's blog on all the value and experiences she gained doing a masters