Have you been contemplating going back to university after a long break due to work, newborn kid(s), extensive travelling, etc.? Well, this article might be just what you are looking for!
Not sure if this is an Indian thing or a family tradition, but the moment, someone starts to celebrate their “win”, we scare them away, saying you might just jinx it. Now, this has gotten, so totally ingrained in me that it took me so long to write this article.
So yes, without jinxing this – I would like to let you all know that I am DONE with my masters, the big TICK on my to-do list was ticked off and HOW! My thesis went supremely well and my “defense” is something I will remember for a long time.
But today is not my day to brag, it’s about a small pat on the back – and it’s about moving on. Honestly, the moment my exams got over I got busy with other stuff – so the celebration had to wait, I am not sure if I even took a moment to savour this. Well, I formally graduate this month, with the black hat and the rolled up degree – all that jazz and some sunshine in my pocket.
Moving on, this article is not going to be about ME, but it is going to be about YOU. It is about how, maybe you, can use my experience and bits of advice when thinking of going back to university to your advantage. I have made my mistakes; you will make yours too but the point is to take that leap of faith.
Here are my bits of advice if you’re thinking of going back to University
If you are still undecided
About a masters or a PhD or an online business, do a logical analysis and then stick with your result. The “could-a, would-a, should-a” routine – you are definitely OLD for this. The pros vs the cons, the cost vs benefit, the practical vs emotional analysis must be done – and since you’re serious, take a piece of paper this time.
If you’re struggling with it, message me, I’ll help you (that too for free ;)). Be for Beauty has not entered the “life coaching” segment yet.
If you are decided
Now that you have decided in favour of going back to university, tread carefully but go in the forward direction. Backing out is not for this phase. Unless you break a leg or something, I would recommend you to go with it! Research, research and more research – it’s important that you spend time on what you are going to sign up for.
But don’t research to the extent of missing deadlines. If you’re over 30, I assume you have contemplated this for at least a couple of years, I would sincerely not recommend wasting another one.
Applications, Interviews, Set Up and Launch – all these phases are 0 on rewards and 100 on hard work – but this is your baseline. You are going to make or break this decision here – and mind you, hard work always, yes always WINS. Talent might not, but hard work, patience and perseverance always do.
It’s okay that you’re not perfect, just don’t be fake
During interviews, presentations and meetings – portraying to be someone you’re not are not going to work. Not even in the short term.
People around you, your seniors and your colleagues have already heard all the “fakeness” that there is, as a matter of fact, haven’t you as well?
When someone asks you your weakness, tell them with confidence and when someone asks you for your strength, shine on. Quote your answers with examples and references. Show them what you’re made off, try mock interviews.
You’re your own brand, we as social media experts and content creators sell interesting stories. Be the person, people want to know!
Your first day
I still remember my first day “back to school”, even with minimal expectations it was probably my worst day in Switzerland. If I have to describe my first day better, I would refer to it as a game of snakes and ladders, this is how my mood fluctuated throughout the day. The ladders were minimal and small, the snakes were poisonous and stood tall. I experienced insensitivity, racism, sexism and chaos all in one day – I wasn’t even sure if I wanted to come back.
So keep your expectations low, especially if you’re an outsider. As a woman and as an Indian, I was the most disappointed on this day.
Getting your game on
After 14 years in the corporate world, I found myself in the classroom, hiding behind my laptop. I used to always sit in the second row, this was my strategic hiding place.
It wasn’t easy to concentrate during long lectures. Coffee was my best friend. Or might I say, I finally understood coffee?
Slowly, but eventually, it happened, this became normalcy. Just give yourself some time, time kind of does it. It did it for a long time housewife, it did it for an impatient business owner and it did it for a corporate honcho.
Doing well is important, but learning is even more important. A lot of colleagues get into the credit game: “how to maximize the gain while minimizing the pain?”
Try not to get into the rut, think of that day when you took this decision, think of your goal and think of the aim. I ended up having favourites during the course, I never did during engineering.
You are older now, act wiser!
Keeping up with the Kardashians
In this case, the Kardashians are the locals, it ain’t easy for foreigners. It is never going to be, not even on the last day. Be it assignment groups, managing relationships or coffee breaks, it is always challenging. Just like everything else, you get used to it.
Always take it with a pinch of salt. These emotions are short-lived; the future gain is the target. Everything was a learning experience for me: people, diversity, culture and the modules.
Everything might not be extraordinary, but everything is super important.
Is it worth going back to university?
Well, let me give the Swiss answer to this one, this is something that I heard all the time in class when a professor posed a question.
It depends on your reasons why you signed up in the first place.
YES, if you…
- want to gain knowledge and perspective.
- are reviving your career after a long break.
- have the time and a zest to learn.
NO, if you…
- want to build a network.
- want to find a job.
- wish to kill time.
- have no reason.
This is not an easy commitment to deal with. Sign up with a clear intent.
My reasons were very clear, I always wanted to do a masters, for me the bachelor degree wasn’t enough. Along with this, I was very aware of my mid-career monotony and zest to add value. If I had ever imagined a break in my career, it was only going to be for higher studies. For those of you who don’t know, my study break is coming to an end and I am soon going to be back in the corporate workforce.
Be for Beauty will continue to entertain you. (** silent clap **)
I completed my Master’s degree in Business and Information Systems from the FHNW – School of business at Olten, Switzerland. I sent in my application even before we moved to Switzerland. My interviews happened over skype and the last 1.5 years were challenging, yet rewarding. You are welcomed to read further about my student life at FHNW after 14 years of absence from studies, here.
Hope you have found these bits of advice with respect to heading back to university as useful. In case you have any questions, feel free to message me – I will be more than happy to guide you; Or if you have already had the chance to go back to university after a long pause, share your experience with us in the comment section below!
Heartfelt thanks for reading this!