Different people enroll themselves in higher education for various reasons. For some people, the reason is personal in nature – to feel satisfaction in pursuing academia. For others, the reason might be professional in nature – to climb the corporate ladder, or to have a competitive edge over peers.

Despite all these reasons, we can all agree on one thing – the journey to complete a Masters education will not be easy. Not only it is costly (unless you are one of the lucky few who managed to snag a scholarship), but it will also be time-consuming.

How do you make it out alive? Here are 3 ways to get the most out of your Master’s education.

Set your Expectations: Student life as a Masters student is not the same as student life as a Degree student

Depending on where you end up studying, your university might have a healthy student population mainly consisting of Degree students.

Ah, you remember those days, don’t you? Late nights study sessions. Budget vacations with friends during semester break. More club activities than you can participate.

It might be tempting to relive your college days and fall back to the Degree student lifestyle. Sure, a little nostalgia won’t harm anyone. But no, you shouldn’t get too carried away – partying all night should be a thing of the past. Plus, hangovers are no longer ‘cute’ at your age (or any age, really).

Life as a Masters student is not boring, just different. You have matured, and that’s a good thing. You used to like junk food; now you genuinely enjoy a bowl of salad with all the trimmings. You used to like Forever 21; now you get better quality wardrobe pieces from Ann Taylor.

Another significant change is your accountability to self-study. Unlike Degrees, where everyone is more or less the same age, students in your Master’s degree class will tend to come from different age backgrounds. They will have their obligations – family and career, just like you. So unlike the group study sessions you had in the past, you will now have to rely on yourself to get that studying done.

We suggest you simply to cut off your ties with the Degree student lifestyle – your life is ahead of you, not in the past.

This might be the last time: Take advantage of student discounts and university facilities

Last time, you had a lot of perks as a student. You remember it as being pretty sweet. In fact, you were quite sad to give it up.

Well, in this case, you get to do it all over again. Your student status means that you are eligible for student discounts! With your student card, you can gleefully claim cheaper movie tickets, reduced admission fees, extra sales in select stores, and access many other discount options available only for students.

You might also find yourself in a position where you have extra disposable income – this is the time to check out and take advantage of student-only travel discounts, higher-end stores, and gadgets. We don’t know about you, but we find that the student discounts for the Apple store are especially tempting.

You can also take advantage what your university have to offer. Some universities offer student gyms with great equipment – some are even comparable to commercial gyms, so go ahead and save money by cancelling your gym membership. Depending on where you enroll, you might also have access to swimming pool, track field, tennis court, rock climbing, and more. If you prefer group fitness or sports, you can also join fitness clubs or sports club for a minimal fee.

Academia-wise, do make sure to take advantage of digital libraries and free access to journals and publications – those are more expensive than you think. While we don’t have data for Singaporean universities, we do know that some universities pay between 6 to 7 figures for those academic journal subscription.

There are many other universities facilities you can use: study space, rehearsal space, internet access, health services, and many others, depending on what your university can offer.

Plant those seeds: Networking, networking, networking

You have probably heard about the importance of networking, perhaps even one too many times.

Well, the reason this advice is repeated over and over again is simple – it’s true. Networking allows you build relationships that will be invaluable to your career. It is not uncommon for people to be recruited, headhunted or promoted after a great networking session. Recommendations via word of mouth are the best form of advertisement for you.

Thankfully, it is easy to network during your Master’s education – you will have lots of opportunities to build relationships during classes, lectures, group work, and other class-related activities. During class discussions, use your unique strengths and viewpoints to shine.

If networking doesn’t come easily to you, start small – even having a small circle of friends will be good for your career (and your studies!) However, don’t be content with that – start expanding your circle of friends and acquaintances when you can.

Conclusion

Having a Masters education is an excellent way to set yourself apart from other graduates – the trend in developed countries suggests that the Masters degree will become the new degree. In Germany, for example, graduates entering the workforce with a ‘basic’ Masters degree is already a norm.

However, an education is only as good as how it’s used. With the tips above, we hope you will get the most out of your Master’s education.

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C.E.O @ The New Savvy
Anna Haotanto is passionate about finance, education, women empowerment and children’s issues. Anna has been featured in CNBC, Forbes, The Straits Times, Business Insider, INC and The Peak Singapore. She was nominated and selected for FORTUNE Most Powerful Women conference in 2016 (Asia) and 2015 (San Francisco, Next Gen). Anna has 10 years of experience in the financial sector and is currently a Director in Tera Capital. Her previous work experience includes positions at Citigroup, United Overseas Bank, a regional role in Business Monitor and a boutique private equity firm based in Shanghai. She graduated from Singapore Management University (Finance and Quantitative Finance).