Published on 2012/11/08

Selecting My University

To choose an institution, a student must know that the programming on offer is relevant to their career aspirations and that they can receive top-quality education at the time and place that is most convenient to them.

I completed my first degree in 2010, which was a BA (Hons) in Education. In the six months preceding the completion of my first degree, I started thinking about what I was going to do next, and more importantly why I was going to do it (self-fulfillment, employability, prosperity).

The conclusion I came to was that I live and work in a dynamic, ever changing, and very competitive world. As such, if I wanted to stay ahead of the competition I needed a unique selling point. I also needed an insurance policy; something that a future employer would find attractive, or something that could result in financial stability either through my own business or through employment.

What I did know was that I was going to do a Master’s and that Master’s had to be related to business, or more importantly the business of doing business.


Well, fads come and go, but business always has and always will make the world go round.

What next, then? I looked at what was going on in the market. We were two years into a recession, and everyone was feeling the pinch, except for one emerging market with few practitioners: The Strategic Carbon Management market. For me this discovery signaled a major opportunity.

Not many universities were offering a Master’s in Business Administration program, and certainly not one specifically focused on Strategic Carbon Management—at least not where I live (Suffolk, England).

I had a number of options; I could go with the Open University and do my studying via distance learning. However, the Open University option was a non-starter for me; they did a number of MBAs and an Environmental Master’s, but it would have taken me too long (three to six years) to complete, and with that time frame I would have lost my competitive advantage, which was one of the reasons for doing the MBA in the first place. Don’t forget, this degree is in part an insurance policy, so I could take advantage of the opportunities presented by an emerging market.

I then found the University of East Anglia (UEA), and by luck they happened to be the one of the leading authorities on climate change.

Having gone through all of this, I then had to find out how much it was going to cost (a lot) and when it started. After that it was academic (as it were). I was going to do this and somehow find the money—which is another story.

I was lucky;, although I could study in London rather than Norwich (where UEA’s campus is located), I have still had access to dedicated and talented instructors who belong to a university that carries an international reputation in climate change. I have not had to settle for lower-quality instructors simply because I attend a satellite campus. Ultimately, this is the closest I was going to get to a degree from Oxford or Cambridge . After all, sometime reputations are really important, especially in an emerging market.

In closing and as I approach my last module, what advice would I give others considering their next move? Here it is:

  • Define your vision for the future
  • Clarify and set your aims and objectives
  • Then enroll and just do it

Remember, if it were easy, everyone would be doing it. Yes it will cost a lot—in money and in time. But once you have it, it is yours forever, and it is a testimony to your drive, determination and vision, because you looked beyond tomorrow and predicted the future. Or, at least, the future needs of potential employers.

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Readers Comments

Eugene Partnoy 2012/11/08 at 9:04 am

I think Mr. Toolan made a good point about time, and about the danger of losing his competitive edge; when emerging markets for jobs and skilled workers are identified, they need those skilled workers now, not in three years. There is a high demand for “quick” credentials (relatively speaking). This may simply mean a program of eight months or one year instead of three.

Unfortunate that, according the Mr. Toolan, this Master’s was so expensive. Now I am not overly familiar with the funding situation in the UK, but I would be interested to know if there would be any financial support for Mr. Toolan as he pursues a degree so relevant to the job market; whether from the industry or from government. That’s a direction I’d like to see us go over here – partly or fully subsidized educational opportunities in burgeoning fields with a talent gap. It seems like common sense to me.

    Tom Toolan 2012/11/15 at 11:39 am

    Dear Eugene,

    Funding in the UK is age related and focused on the young 16 to 24 for Further and or Higher Education. Above this age and for 2nd, 3rd degrees (Masters, PHD) there is no Government funding for the over 25’s.

    It is possible to gain ‘Corporate Sponsorship’, but again, this is usually aimed at those of a younger age 25 to 35, depending on the organisation.

    Kind regards and best wishes

    Tom Toolan
    Senior Consultant – TJK Consultancy Services LTD

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