This post is written by Frida Boge, Alireza Khosravi, and Jennifer Raines – First year MSc. students
Whether you are coming straight from a bachelor’s programme or from the working world, making the transition to becoming a master’s student can be challenging. Here are some helpful tips we wish we had known before starting our masters’ at BI.
1. Review useful past subjects (statistics, writing, Excel)
Virtually every master’s program at BI has a data analysis component. That means that if it has been a while since you studied statistics, it’s time to review so you are well prepared to jump back into the subject matter. BI offers prepatory courses before school begins each year, or there are plenty of resources online. The same goes for writing and research. If you haven’t been writing research papers recently (or need a reminder of how to reference sources), refresh your skills so that first big paper isn’t so overwhelming. It is also worth brushing up on your Excel skills and anything else that might be especially relevant to you courses (read the course descriptions!).
2. Get familiar with BI’s grading and exam policies
Well before exam time, get familiar with BI’s grading and exam rules so you know what to expect. Some of BI’s exams take place through a digital exam system called DigiX that allows students to submit answers online. For these types of exams, deadlines are strict and non-negotiable, so make sure you know how to submit and that your computer doesn’t experience any problems on the page before last minute! There are also paper examinations at BI that may take place on BI’s campus or at other locations in Oslo. Make sure you understand where to report for each exam (ask the Master’s Administration, if you are ever unsure). For these types of exams you are required to record answers in triplicate on special carbon paper packets. Take care to set aside completed sheets so you don’t inadvertently write over them and remember to separate the sheets by color when you hand them in.
3. Reflect on how you learn
Master’s programmes are stuffed full of information and no two people absorb the information in the same way. Spend some time reflecting on the study techniques that work best for you to avoid feeling overwhelmed the first few weeks. For example, do you remember more when you take notes by hand or on your computer? Or maybe you thrive by just listening in class and reviewing the lecture slides afterwards? If you know you benefit from studying in a group, be aware that you can book group rooms in the library. Or, if you prefer to study alone, spend some time finding prime spots to focus (like the quiet room in the Master’s area of the library).
4. Prepare to actively participate
Compared to most bachelor’s programs, a master’s program requires much more preparation for each class. There are lots of reading materials, assignments, presentations and frequent deadlines. Be prepared to identify and prioritize the most relevant content and to work consistently throughout the semester (cramming at the last minute will not work). This will help you feel more confident to participate in discussions and share your views in class, which is important as expected many courses count participation as 10-30% of your total grade. This might sounds scary, especially since this is something you are not used to from you bachelor’s, but we can assure you that actively participates not only increases your learning, but makes classes a lot more exciting.
5. Develop stress reduction techniques
No matter how well prepared you are, your master’s program will be stressful! Come armed with some strategies to handle that stress. Try exercise (there is a SIO Athletica gym on BI’s campus), yoga, meditation, taking a walk, reading novels or cooking a dinner with friends. Ultimately, your master’s program should be challenging but also enjoyable!