Tips for Surviving Postgrad by Tracey Eldridge

So, you have made the decision to go back to university. Perhaps you’re carrying on from your previous degree, giving up your career and starting afresh, or maybe you’re after that elusive promotion and further studies will help you rise above the rest. Either way, you’re in for a surprise. There are things you don’t know, things no one prepared you for.

Postgrad is a world unto itself, a world full of journals and research and most importantly, a world where you need to fit in with the young crowd. I know what it’s like, so I’m here to help you straddle the side of the bright orange cow that is postgrad and ride it all the way to victory – and if you don’t like riding an orange cow, too bad, because you’re on one.

1. You know the first time you were at uni and there was that annoying older person in every class, the one you and your friends would laugh at because they answered all the questions and had a comment for everything? You are now that person.

2. Long gone is the time you found love in the classroom, hooking up with other students and dating two of them at once. Now you’re a postgrad, this isn’t going to happen. Why? Because suddenly, the academic staff seem more attractive.

3. It’s great to wear a t-shirt with your favourite band on the front. Represent. But if other students are asking you who the band is, you may want to re-think your outfit. Perhaps The Seekers aren’t as popular as they used to be.

4. You will do more research in the first week than you did in your entire undergraduate degree. You cannot escape this, so don’t bother trying.

5. If a student says, “Dude, chill. Don’t go all Sheldon Cooper on me.” Just nod at them like you know what they’re talking about. You can go home and google what a ‘Sheldon’ is later. Hint: It’s most likely from a song, a TV show or Twilight.*

6. There is no way on Earth you can juggle work, study, classes, parenting, socialising, knitting, orange cow riding, or whatever it is that you do each day. But you’ll do it anyway because it will be worth it in the end. I’m sure someone said that. Once.

7. Joining the Student Union is important, but don’t stand around talking to them about the time you were a member of the Victorian Fibrous Plasterers & Plaster Workers Union. No one cares.

8. Don’t bring your kids with you to class. Unless they ‘go here’ too. On that note, if you are in the same university as your young’uns, you may want to re-think sitting next to them. And yes, the reason they’re now going by the name Engelbert Humperdinck is because having that name isn’t half as embarrassing as having a parent in the same class as you.

9. When participating in group assignments, make sure you aren’t the one in the group that no one likes. To do this, you may need to pick up extra work.

10. Having a rad hairstyle is essential to university life. I’m sure when you went to the hairdresser for that that ‘Rachel’ bob you were confident you’d be winning. You are not.

11. The library is no longer a place where you get lost in a pile of books and papers. Now, there is a little thing called the internet. You can do your research in your pajamas. Have a look into that.

12. When searching for a table to eat lunch at, don’t sit next to the gentleman who seems like he could hold an intelligent and well-rounded conversation. That’s the Dean. You might want to sit next to the guy who can’t afford a belt to hold up his jeans.

13. Someone in class is talking about an up-and-coming indie band they met last night. Now is not the time to bring up the day you met John Farnham.*

14. If you come to univeristy from work, all dressed in your swanky business suit and shiny shoes, be warned. Students will submit their assignments to you.

15. Ignore what everyone else thinks and do what you want. YOLO.

*This tip is also helpful for academic staff.

Tracey Eldridge



Catalyst has been the student publication of RMIT University since 1944. We may be older than your parents but we’re still going strong!

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