You might be thinking about studying in the UK, but you do not know where to start. As an international postgraduate student, I had the same doubts about what I needed to do to study in another country. I am going to share my experiences as to how I prepared for postgraduate study in the UK.
How it all started
Ever since I started my Bachelors degree, I knew I wanted to go to another country and experience being an international student. However, I didn’t just want to go for a semester or two. I wanted to study the whole programme abroad. So, I set myself a goal to do my postgraduate studies in Europe. I graduated as an Industrial Engineering Administrator from the Autonomous University of Nuevo León in 2016. I immediately started working as a professional, but my educational dream continued as I was able to study my Masters abroad. However, I did not have a specific start date because I didn’t know what subject I wanted to specialise in. I didn’t like the idea of doing a Masters without having a clear objective.
The first steps
A year after I graduated, I was enjoying my life as a professional. I figured out that I wanted to learn and practice sustainability and environmental management topics from my work. I really liked to be involved in those subject areas and I saw myself working on it in the future. So after that, I planned to study my Masters in the UK. My first steps were as follows:
Choosing a course
I spent time defining what Masters subject area I wanted to study. I first chose the area that I wanted to study and then found out which courses were most similar to what I wanted. After that, I made a list of which countries I wanted to study in, which came to three countries and a course for each.
Building up knowledge
I decided to learn more about sustainability and environmental management topics. As an industrial engineer, I did not have so much academic and professional knowledge of those subjects, but I was always involved in sustainability and the environment in my work. I started looking for online courses related to the above topics simply to strengthen my profile for when it was time to apply to university.
Strengthening my CV
Prior to making my application, I enhanced my CV with more professional experience and extracurricular activities. I always considered myself a very active person who involved myself in social and environmental issues in my city. I engaged with groups and associations to develop projects for the well-being of the community and the environment. During my working life and before my Masters degree, I was very active, learning new skills and knowledge day-by-day. All of this made my CV even stronger.
I searched for possible scholarships and financial support. This was a crucial part of my preparation. Without a scholarship, it was very unlikely that I would be able to study my postgraduate abroad. That is why I also prepared a good profile. I felt confident in applying to the available scholarships.
The final decision
When I planned all this I gave myself a one-year deadline to get ready for applying for my Masters. The University of York was my first option, since its MSc Corporate Sustainability and Environmental Management programme was the one that I liked the most of all my options. The modules were exactly the topics that I wanted to focus on in the future in my professional life. After spending a year working after my Bachelors degree, I had met my goals. It was time to start applying to the Masters and scholarships I had chosen. My next steps were as follows:
English language certification
One of the most important parts of your application is your English language certification. If you do not meet the English language requirements of your course, you might not get a place. I took the TOEFL iBT exam, because in my country it was the most common certification. It had also been recommended to me. One of the main differences between these tests is that you take the TOEFL test on a computer and other tests are in person with people from the institution.
One of the actions I did mainly before I started applying to the course was translating my important documents to English. It takes time to translate the documents officially. I suggest this to be one of the first things you should do if you are an international student applying to the UK.
One of the important parts of applying for postgraduate study in the UK is writing your Statement purpose. This captures your motivations, skills, and education. The Statement Purpose is a document that you write to explain why you want to study the selected course and what you will do after it ends. This also helps you to get a scholarship. You also write about all of your skills and why you are one of the best people to study at the University. Your CV should be a more summarised version of this.
You will need letters of recommendation to apply to your course. At this stage, I wanted to select people with whom I had the opportunity to work with and people who taught me. Those people could give more weight to my application and could be the head of my Bachelors Department, direct boss of my job or even the person in charge of an organisation that you volunteered for. There are plenty of options.
Once you’ve made your application…
By covering all these steps, you will practically have your application ready. Once you are accepted to the University (and even have a scholarship), I think the most important thing is to get used to reading a lot and participating actively in classes. Never hesitate to ask something that you did not understand. If you master these steps perfectly, you will do well with your postgraduate study in the UK.
Read more blogs from postgraduate students.