Our MSc Mathematical Finance ambassador Charlotte discusses the key differences between undergraduate and postgraduate study and also shares the top tips on how to prepare when starting your MSc.
One year ago, I was in the same situation you are in now. If you are reading this blog, you have probably just received or accepted an offer for a master’s degree and are ready for the next step: preparing for your arrival. All the information you are receiving now about next year might be a bit overwhelming at times. Hopefully, I can help you prepare a little and get rid of some of the nerves you might be experiencing with the help of this blog. I will provide you with some tips on how to prepare and what to expect when you start at WBS, but let me tell you something right before you continue reading: there may be a lot of surprises on your master’s journey that nobody can prepare you for, which is totally fine!
Expect to work hard
One of the first things that comes to my mind is that you should expect to work hard, and a lot. During my undergraduate, I obtained two degrees next to various other time-consuming extracurricular activities, so I was used to working hard. Still, the transition from a bachelor’s degree to a master’s degree should not be taken lightly because there certainly is a difference. People studying for a master’s degree are expected to have a genuine interest in the subjects they follow, which might seem logical, but it also affects the style of teaching. Whereas all studying materials are perfectly handed to you during your undergraduate degree, you might be expected to explore the topics covered in the modules yourself a bit more, by reading articles for instance and going beyond the materials covered in class. Moreover, the pace is higher, and you are expected to have a general knowledge on some topics before you start your degree. Since everyone comes from different (study) backgrounds, this might be more challenging for some than for others. I would really recommend catching up on the readings provided by your university during the summer before your course starts. This ensures you are up to date and can start your degree flawlessly.
Expect a different focus to undergraduate
There also seems to be shift in the focus of people you study with. Whereas undergraduate students are primarily keen on connecting with as many new people as possible by joining various societies for instance, postgraduate students’ main objective is the next step after their degree. Students are concentrated on securing that internship or graduate position of their dreams, which usually was the first place they signed up for the degree they are studying. Next to studying for their degree, postgrads are applying for different jobs and preparing for their interviews which can be very time-consuming altogether. Nevertheless, there is also time to socialise and make friends who you will study, eat with, maybe work out and go out with for example, so you can still build very close friendships in this relatively short timeframe.
Studying abroad for the first time
Finally, I would like to cover the aspect of studying abroad for the first time, which may or may not apply to you. There are so many things to consider before moving abroad which I had never realised before planning to study somewhere else. Think about your visa application, sponsorship, finances, health care and many more things to take into account. At the time, this might seem overwhelming when you think of yet another thing you should cover before you leave. However, the university has great support teams for everything you should take care of. Although this might be your first time abroad, they are used to welcoming thousands of students each year from all over the world. Personally, I found it very pleasant to have these teams guide you through the process and knowing who to send an email with which question for instance. Don’t worry, they will email you well in advance of any deadlines, just make sure you keep track of everything in your inbox with a separate map for all correspondence with the university for instance.
Overall, I am having a great time during my postgraduate studies so far and I can really confirm that there is no need to worry – in the end, you will figure everything out just like I did. Whenever you feel nervous or maybe even anxious about this next step, simply keep in mind that there are many students right now across the globe, who are experiencing the same feelings as you are and that is completely normal! Just don’t forget to also enjoy these exciting times in the meantime! :)
Find out more about the student experience at Warwick Business School by reading our Postgraduate blog, or discover more about MSc Mathematical Finance on our course webpages.