If you’re thinking of doing postgraduate study, it’s important to make an informed choice about your course. But sorting through the information can be daunting, especially if you’re working at the same time.
Course specialist Kristy Shay is one of several student advisors who run free one-on-one consultations with students who are thinking about starting postgraduate study. She takes us inside a postgrad consultation and reveals how talking to an expert can help you create course clarity.
There’s no such thing as a silly question
Questions about postgraduate study come in all shapes and sizes. There’s no query too big or too small for our course specialists – they love the variety and are here to help.
“One-on-one consultations are an opportunity to look at lifestyle and careers from a postgrad perspective. Some people might just have a small question, whereas others might have no idea what they’re seeking. They’re all different,” Kristy says.
A consultation can help you home in on your career objectives and provide practical guidance about your course options. With up to an hour allocated per session, there’s plenty of time to ask about course structures, application processes, or other study-related issues.
And if you’re feeling intimidated by having a one-on-one consultation, rest assured that course specialists are not only knowledgeable, but approachable, too.
“It’s very friendly and the conversation flows naturally,” Kristy says.
“We’ll talk to you about coursework, what’s involved within the course and help you get through the application process. It’s a good sounding-board. And if you meet with me, you’ll even get a cup of coffee or tea!”
Your consultation is tailored to you
Understanding your unique situation is key to a one-on-one consultation. Everyone is different, which means different backgrounds, different pre-requisites, different courses open to you and different pathways to get there.
“If you’re coming straight to postgrad study from an undergraduate degree, you’re completely different to, say, a 40-year-old nurse who’s looking to upskill in cancer care or mental health,” Kristy says.
Depending on your circumstances, your session might cover what you need to do before you apply, how to apply, or suggest alternative courses to consider.
“We’ll understand what qualifications you’ve got and how they can set you up for your next one. Then, we’ll outline the pre-requisites for the course you’re interested in. You’ll leave knowing exactly the next step to take to start further study.”
Your session could explore how coursework fits in with your lifestyle. You might talk about contact hours and modes of study – online, face-to-face, or blended. Or you might discuss the mode of application, such as VTAC or direct entry, as well as when applications open and when your course starts.
Course specialists like Kristy have encyclopaedic knowledge to guide you through these intricacies.
“You might miss something on the website, but we’re experts on these courses. We go into a lot more depth about course information than is online,” Kristy says.
You’ll leave feeling better prepared
Course specialists see definite differences between students who’ve taken part in a consultation and those who haven’t. Students who have consultations are better prepared to apply for and start their postgrad course. And because they’ve received a great grounding in course information, they’re also more realistic about the cost, commitment and the competitiveness of their chosen course.
“Certain courses can only take a certain amount of people. Other courses have lots of places across many campuses. We’re really upfront about that,” Kristy says.
By contrast, people who haven’t done a consultation can be less aware of different delivery modes and the flexibility offered by some courses. They may not be across the scholarships available at postgraduate level. Or, worse still, they may dissuade themselves from making what would have been a successful application.
“People who haven’t done a consultation often discount their ability to get to an application stage, thinking that they don’t meet the pre-requisites,” Kristy says.
Prospective La Trobe postgrad student Amy Stanton says her consultation gave her a healthy confidence boost.
“I got confidence in the process, in myself and in my experiences. Having someone to talk with about the course helped me feel that while yes, the course will be difficult, it is finite and achievable.”
Choosing a postgrad course is a significant career decision. By tapping into the ongoing, personalised support that a one-on-one consultation offers, you’re already at an advantage. As Kristy sums up:
“You’ll have talked to a professional that you can then have contact with at any time. We’re your point of contact at the university. We’re your go-between. And if you forget to ask something, you can come straight back to us.”
Looking to advance your career with postgraduate study? Book your one-on-one consultation now to study in Semester 2, 2018. You can choose to chat online, by phone or video call, or talk in person at any one of our metropolitan or regional campuses.