The Bartlett


Studying as a mature student

By Fion Yu

"Congratulations on your offer to study at The Bartlett...!"  This offer confirmation email was received exactly a year ago, marking my MSc journey as a mature student with The Bartlett. Returning to university after gaining more than 4 years work experience within the accountancy field before quitting my secure job to start a new life as MSc was not an easy decision as you can imagine. Reading intensive academic journals, studying for exams, making notes during lectures and more were all daunting considerations. Yet I saw more opportunities than uncertainty ahead of my future with such a challenge. 

Studying a master’s degree has always been my mid-term career goal after completing my undergraduate degree. I previously served property investment clients as an external auditor and cooperated closely with real estate valuers, project engineers and surveyors, which made me realise the important linkage between real estate and planning to a city’s economic growth and overall success. With no doubt, this unique course provided by The Bartlett, International Real Estate and Planning MSc, become my first and only choice to pursue my master’s degree.

If you have worked few years and are thinking of getting back to university, do go for it so that you will not regret in 10 years’ time! I share some positivity from my personal experience below:

Be prepared to read…and enjoy!

I struggled with the extensive reading list when I first started my degree as it has been years since I last read an academic journal and due to my quantitative undergraduate background, it was never my favourite thing to spend time on. Upon completion of 8 modules over the last two terms, I have realised how my reading speed and abilities have improved and I now enjoy reading academic journals to develop my critical thinking skills. Be prepared to read extensively around your course, the wealth of knowledge will benefit you academically and personally.

Fion's workstation

Your work experience makes you unique

Group projects form an important element of your studies, where you collaborate with your classmates from different nationalities and educational backgrounds. With several years of work experience, you may have countless project management and team working experiences to draw from. These skills will allow you to act as project initiator by leading and planning the project for timely execution. You can also draw on real-life examples to support your seminar discussions with your cohort where you could find linkage between your experience and the academic world. Remember to be proactive and share your experience as it is valuable.

Impress potential employers with your determination to study

Employers love to see candidates' passion to learn, especially for valuable skill sets or professional knowledge. I have been exploring the job market and recently accepted an offer to work full time as a business analyst to review investment proposals on new store openings whilst studying my degree. My employer regarded my city planning passion and real estate knowledge to be a key contribution to the team’s success, as I am able to bring in specialised knowledge gained from my master’s education to think one step ahead of the planning consideration for each proposal. So please utilise all the resources that The Bartlett provides you with; read more, talk to professors of your own interest area, attend more Bartlett exclusive optional seminars to inspire you. You never know what your future employer might be looking for!

London planning

Work-life balance 

This brings me to the last point; that mature students might struggle with balancing their study with personal commitments or work. My study schedule is flexible, in the current pandemic my lectures are pre-recorded, and students are given the opportunity to discuss and debate key themes to develop one’s critical thinking skills. Therefore, you need to plan to work for your employer, or your personal commitments around your study schedule to make the most out of your one-year programme, and you will be surprised how much you have gained if you plan your time wisely. I negotiated flexible working hours with my employers (thanks to the +7 hours’ time difference I was able to work until Asia time 5pm before attending classes!). I also devoted one full day every weekend and several weekday nights to complete all the seminar reading and essays. On top of that, do plan for some downtime for relaxation and exercise to keep your brain and body energised.

About me

Fion is studying International Real Estate and Planning MSc at The Bartlett School of Planning pursuing her personal interest in the planning industry. Born in Hong Kong and educated in the UK, Fion is a wanderlust who has travelled to more than 30 countries in Asia-Pacific and Europe and enjoys water sports.

Fion Yu