Your undergraduate days are well and truly over - you've got the cap, gown and obligatory photo to prove it!
As you continue to study to take your academic qualifications to the next level, there are as many things to consider the second time around as there were the first, like:
- Where are you going to live?
- Can you cope with shared accommodation or have you well and truly outgrown it?
- How are you going to fund your postgraduate studies?
- Will you be able to enjoy a decent social life?
- Is there an option to live at home and commute?
- Will you need a loan, a job (or possibly both) to get through your postgraduate years?
Read our guide to see if we can help you make the most of your student years. They're the best years of your life!
Surviving on the budget of a student is no easy task.
If you have a part time job you'll find it easier, as you'll have more money to play with. But if you haven't got a job and are solely reliant on loans or grants, here are a few suggestions that'll make the money in your pocket last just that little bit longer.
- Do a weekly shop instead of buying day to day and plan your meals ahead
- While convenience foods might be just that - convenient - they can also be costly, so try to cook from scratch and avoid the premiums on ready-made meals
- Restrict takeaways to the weekend, otherwise the cost will burn a hole in your pocket (never mind the added calories!)
- Consider pooling your food resources if you're in shared accommodation and splitting the bill between housemates
- And mundane as it might seem, consider fixing your menu too so that it's stays the same for a week at a time. It’ll help you budget properly while you expand your cooking repertoire too!
Lastly, try to stay healthy and avoid eating junk food, day in-day out. Life is about enjoying everything in moderation, so bear that in mind!
If you have a car the big question is - do you really need it as a student? Using public transport has some distinct advantages compared with battling busy city-centre traffic in between lectures.
Better still, and as a student, you can usually take advantage of some sort of student discount, which differs from region to region, so it's worth checking that out for the area you're going to move to.
In Northern Ireland, for example, if you are a student aged 24+ for just £8.00 you could buy a '24+ Student Railcard' which offers you 1/3 off single, day return, weekly and monthly tickets, plus up to 50% off Enterprise fares.
Naturally, with any discounted travel scheme terms and conditions apply, so check out the transport services in the area you'll be studying in and weigh up the costs of running a car (tax, insurance, fuel, wear and tear, MOT etc.), versus the cost of student travel.
Lastly, if you love the 'great outdoors' and fancy being at one with nature, you could always consider walking, running or cycling to your lectures instead!
Visit Translink for more information on student travel within Northern Ireland and to be re-directed to Translink NI.
Books and learning
On top of paying for your postgraduate course, however long it lasts, you'll also have the cost of buying the necessary books that are compulsory for your particular subject. Your lecturer will normally give you a comprehensive list of what books are necessary to move along your academic achievements. But if you're not quick off the mark most of the free copies that belong to either the university library or your local library will be gone.
As some of these dense, academic books can be fairly expensive to buy, you can try to source a second hand copy (providing it's the edition you need) by either visiting a student website that sells second hand books, such as savethestudent.org, or by visiting a host of other sites where bids can be made on the books you need.
Whenever your need for these books has finished, you can put the copies up for sale and cash in too.
Did you know that half the cost of your monthly phone bill for the duration of your contract goes towards paying for the handset itself? So when it comes to an upgrade ask yourself do you really need a new phone or whether you can cope with the version you've got.
While it's tempting to flash the latest 4G device or iPhone, the monthly fees are usually enough to put anyone off. With most universities offering access to a wide range of digital technology, like cameras and digital recording equipment, you might not always need to pay for a phone that has every bell and whistle on it.
So before you sign on the dotted line of any new mobile phone contract, look into what's available on campus and potentially save yourself a few bob.
The facilities at your university are there to be used: whether it's the leisure suite, library or technology borrowed from the Faculty of Arts department etc., it's all there at your disposal. So max out on what's available on site and keep the money in your pocket there for longer!