If you are reading this article it is very likely that you have faced or you will be facing with the big question quite soon: do I want to extend my education with a Master degree or not?
Which will be probably followed by other questions. Where do I do a Master? Should I start now or take a break, maybe have some working experience in between? How will I pay for it? Do I really want to spend another year or two listening to lecture and stress for exams? Will it be actually useful? What do I need to even get accepted? Shall I look for a master abroad? Do I really want this?
Yes, you see… you are now spiraling. Which is totally fine and understandable!
The purpose of this article is to help to clarify your ideas and to approach in a more relaxed way the big question. I think a good way (and also bit fun way) to look at it, is to compare it to the supplier selection process, after all the University and the master that you will end up doing will be supplying you with knowledge.
Suppliers…how do they work again?
Supply is a critical and important issue. Why?
Put simply it is where everything starts, without raw materials or in our case the knowledge (a.k.a. master program), it is rather difficult to produce or obtain anything. For some reason, it seems that supply is less thought through and perhaps understood, as the main focus is more on the clients, or in our case the job that you would like to land.
But let’s start with order, few things have to be taken in account here:
- What will you study (supply)?
- Why do you want to study (get supply from) this particular subject?
- How to make the right choice (select)?
First thing first, you will think of an interesting subject, something that feels very appealing to you and make you think: “Wow! This is so cool, I want to do it as well”. If you are at this point this is very good start. But, for many other fellow students, the process of choosing is not such a straightforward path to follow. That is allright, let’s see how can we move forward.
When you are about to start to even look for a potential supplier (master), most probably you will aim for the best. I know, being the best is somehow a relative concept, that is why you will have to choose the best for you. This can be from several points of view, the best courses composition, the best choice of extracurricular activities, the best campus and more.
But how do you get these information? Suppliers auction and selection.
Well, in our case it is more a reverse auction, where the suppliers “compete” to obtain business from the buyers. When you start your search you will soon find yourself overwhelmed by the many offering of the same type of study program, and these “suppliers” will “compete” to obtain you as a student.
In a reverse auction the suppliers will underbid each other in order to offer to the buyer the most attractive offer and close the deal. Universities will try to underbid the competition by offering the most complete study program, the best facilities, the best community, the most renowned teaching staff, wider services, strongest job market connection and why not also the best fee.
They will do so on their websites and open days, which are both a great way to get you the first hand knowledge about your potential suppliers, the market and all the possibilities you could get.
Now, you have spent few evenings with the company of a nice cup of coffee scrutinizing each and all of these websites, subscribing to every open day and similar events. Basically, you know a lot… but it is enough? Hard to say. For some people it is, for others more needs to be known. Where do start then?
Well, as a buyer (student) you will likely have needs and requirements. This will be you starting ground. Make a list of what you liked from all the information you got, and what you did not like. Basically write down some criteria to peel off the offer. Some programs will be discarded immediately because this or that reason, some will go through the funnel and get stopped halfway because you notice something that you had not considered before. Others maybe two or if you are lucky just one, will be the perfect candidates.
In case of a tie, a great way to get more insider knowledge is to contact students that are enrolled in the programs you like or alumni. They both can give you extremely good information that are unlikely to be mentioned in a shiny presentation booklet. The students will be able to give you some details about the actual workload of the courses, how much teamwork is needed, what is the real balance between theory or practice. The alumni, instead, could also give some perspective from a post master point of view, why they think it helped them, what did they liked or dislike about it.
What I am actually suggesting is to not stop just on the surface and try to dig deeper, because at official events everything will look sparkling and fantastic because is what these events are meant for: to attract a wide portion of potential students (buyers). When selecting your master, like selecting suppliers you should not hurry, the relationships that bring the greatest results are build focusing on long term.
Once you choose a topic, you should also have a valid motivation to do it. I want to get this kind of supply, why and what for. Needless to say that strong interest and deep motivation in study is key. So, take your time and really make sure that you are ready, because you and only you can really know your deepest motivation.
…And good luck with your choice!