Tips for returning to full-time education

Sustainable Built Environment conference in Tokyo
Reading Time: 3 minutes

By Nancy, MSc Energy, Society and Sustainability

View of a Hongkong Business area

A very busy business area in Hongkong


The time of “New year, new me!” has come. Some of you may be thinking about personal development and considering returning to full-time education for postgraduate study after working full-time for a while. Returning to university can be an opportunity for switching career paths or a step towards your dream. Either way, it is definitely not an easy decision to make. It could be exciting yet overwhelming, especially if you have been getting used to a professional working environment. In this blog, I would like to share my journey with a few tips for everyone that are making the big decision!


First, here is a bit of my own journey.

My undergraduate study is in Geography. After graduation, I entered an environmental consultancy firm in Hong Kong and worked full-time as a consultant and project manager for almost four years. I had the opportunity to work with clients from various industries and participated in a conference on Sustainable Built Environment in Tokyo. The experience elevated my interest in a career in sustainability. I felt that I had a lot of professional knowledge during the years but I also felt that I lacked knowledge in global perspectives for pursuing development in the industry. Therefore, I started to plan for a postgraduate degree and found the MSc Energy, Society and Sustainability in Edinburgh a good fit for me. With a little luck and some effort, here I am!

Me in a photo of project team

Back in the time when I was working full-time

Leaving your comfort zone to tackle the unknown can be hard sometimes.  What I did to ease myself is to seek advice from peers that had recently done postgraduate studies in a similar field and those who are still in academia. They have given me great support and useful information on where the degree can get me and what I shall expect from it.

If you have already made the decision, a piece of advice would be: be prepared! There will be lots to prepare from the application, drafting your personal statement, seeking academic references, applying for Visa… Especially if you would like to apply for the scholarship, definitely don’t procrastinate! If you have been away from studying for a while, it could take time for you to gather all the documents needed. The deadlines are always much earlier than you expected. I had taken plenty of time off from full-time work (3 months!) prior to the start of school. It gave me great flexibility to prepare for returning to study and cope with the covid requirements at the time. As I hadn’t been reading academic papers for four years, I was worried that I could not adapt to the learning environment. Prior to the start of the semester, we received the pre-arrival reading list from the school, and I spent my three months off getting into the learning vibe and it certainly helped!

After getting used to a full-time work pattern, returning to the freedom of being a student is fascinating. You can schedule your own learning schedule according to your habits. After being used to a nine-to-five working style, I find myself less motivated to work after evening hours. Therefore, I  have changed my studying pattern and spent time in the library from early morning until evening which has worked really well for me. So, be prepared to adjust your daily life when moving from full-time work to full-time education!  

Top tips summary: seek advice from your peers and be prepared for the changes!


Useful links

School of GeoSciences Website:

Postgraduate Taught Study at The University of Edinburgh:

More blog posts you might like:

Social media: 


Leave a reply

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


Report this page

To report inappropriate content on this page, please use the form below. Upon receiving your report, we will be in touch as per the Take Down Policy of the service.

Please note that personal data collected through this form is used and stored for the purposes of processing this report and communication with you.

If you are unable to report a concern about content via this form please contact the Service Owner.

Please enter an email address you wish to be contacted on. Please describe the unacceptable content in sufficient detail to allow us to locate it, and why you consider it to be unacceptable.
By submitting this report, you accept that it is accurate and that fraudulent or nuisance complaints may result in action by the University.