#DILO (A day in the life of) a master’s student – Anthony Cairns

What is the best way to study online? Should you do an online programme? How to better manage time when learning online?

These are all questions that we at Robert Kennedy College (RKC) get asked regularly by students who are looking to join one of our online programmes. Undertaking to do an online master’s degree programme will be an additional commitment to your time and finances, and it is wise to get information beforehand, cross your T’s and dot your I’s before making your decision. 

Through this continuing series of blog posts, some of our past and current students have shared their thoughts and opinions and given their feedback on handling some of these choices and situations. Hopefully, this will help you to make an informed decision. 

Learning from those who came before you is smart. I am not asking you to follow what they are saying blindly, but to take what they said worked for them and see if it will work for you, maybe make a few changes (or a lot). In the end, only you know what works best for you!

Anthony Cairns is one of our successful students who graduated with a Master of Arts degree in Leading Innovation and Change (This programme has been discontinued, we now offer a 100% Online MBA in Leading Innovation and Change in its stead). Anthony says that his experience in doing an MA via RKC resulted in his now doing a PhD. 

On the left Anthony Cairns – Graduation Picture – 18th November 2015, and on the right Anthony Cairns being awarded his master’s degree by the Archbishop of York in 2015 John Sentamu

Once you get the academia bug, there is no stopping the roller coaster! 😉

Anthony Cairns, RKC Graduate

An Introduction

Who you are, really?

I am a software test management consultant, specialising in software testing, governance, and ISO standards.

Which Uni are you studying with?

I studied with York St John University for my MA. 

Which programme did you choose and why?

MA in Leading Innovation and Change 

The Study Plan

How did you plan to study each module, and what was the reality? For example, how many hours did/do you have to put in each day/or in a week?

I decided to study 2 modules at the same time, the reality being that I achieved this, but with detriment to perhaps I could have gained higher marks had I studied one at a time. But the end result was I managed to gain my MA in less time than I would have otherwise taken. Although I was working full-time as a contract consultant test manager, I worked every evening from around 7pm until about midnight. I then got up early at around 6am to do a couple of more hours before going to the office.

What part of the day did/do you find most suitable to study? (e.g. early mornings, lunch break, evenings, weekends?)

I used to personally love the 8pm to midnight, as well as the 6am (if not earlier).

How much time did you devote for each assignment?

Hard to say when I did 2 at the same time, but perhaps I estimate about 20-30 hours each week across 2 modules.

Travelling and Communication

How did travelling impact your ability to study?

Not at all, as when I travelled it was via flight and it gave me extra time to work on my MA.

How were you able to interact with peers and/or professors given the time differences?

There was no real time difference as such as I worked whatever time I need to allocate to get the work done and delivered.

On the top we see Anthony Cairns sitting in the front row with his graduating class, and the bottom picture shows Anthony Cairns with his lovely family

A typical day as a master’s student

What does a typical day as an Online Masters’ student look like for you?

Get up early, do some University work. Go and perform my daily paid-for-work. Get back (to home or hotel), then do another couple of hours before dinner. Stop for an hour or so for dinner, then do another 3-5 hours after dinner in the evening.

Any advice?

Any advice you have for students to better plan their studies.

Perhaps work on a single module at a time. Take all the advice you get from your supervisor, as they have been there many times before. Read, read, read, then read some more. Research is paramount. Give advice and guidance to fellow students who may need a little help and guidance. I did this all the time and found it also personally very rewarding.


I hope this blog has answered some of your questions, and please watch this place for more similar blogs. You can also chat LIVE on WhatsApp with one of our Education Advisors for more information on all the programmes we offer, and the application process.

Meet the Dean, Dr. iur. David Costa – in an exclusive Live Session

The Dean of Robert Kennedy College, Dr. iur. David Costa recently held an online presentation and live discussion session about our 100% Online BA, MSc, MBA, and LLM programmes. The online Master’s programmes are offered in exclusive partnerships with the University of Cumbria, the University of Salford, and York St John University. The participants – the potential and current students accepted into our programmes –  had a chance to ask the Dean questions directly.   

Introducing the Dean  

Professor David Costa is one of the founders of Robert Kennedy College. In his current capacity as Dean of Faculty, he oversees the faculty review process and several of the college’s academic programmes.  

He holds a Dr. iur. (Doctor Iuris, Doctor of Laws) degree from the University of Basel, Switzerland, where he researched the law and regulations related to synthetic investment products. With other Law degrees from Scotland (Robert Gordon University, LL.B), England (the University of Northumbria at Newcastle, LL.M International Trade Law), and the United States (Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, LL.M in U.S. Law), he has acquired extensive expertise in Comparative Law.   

In addition to his legal qualifications, Dr Costa holds a BA in Business Studies from the University of Derby, an MBA in eCommerce from Queen Margaret University in Edinburgh, a PhD in Strategy, Programme, and Project Management from the École Supérieure de Commerce de Lille for which his doctoral thesis was a study of index-based commodity investments. 

David is a frequent guest on business TV channels such as CNBC Europe and Bloomberg Television. His recent research on risk-adjusted portfolios with both stocks and commodities has been used for the creation of a Swiss publicly traded investment certificate issued by the second-largest German Bank, Commerzbank AG. In addition, he is the author of The Portable Private Banker.  

Professor David Costa lectures at Robert Kennedy College in Contracts Law, Transnational Business Law, Investment Law and Money Management  

The Presentation  

Professor David Costa began with a short presentation providing details about each of our exclusive partner universities. Then, he introduced the programmes offered – the MBAs, MSc, LL.Ms, and the BA (Hons) that was recently added to the list of the wide range of programmes RKC offers. He then gave the programme overview and explained what makes our Master’s programmes so unique. Here are some of the highlights that set RKC’s Online programmes apart:  

  1. Duration – Minimum 12 months and maximum 5 years  
  1. Contemporary, practical courses  
  1. No Exams. Evaluation based on assessments   
  1. Flexible Learning  
  1. 100% online courses  
  1. British Degrees that are recognized worldwide  

Further, he dived into the real reason they were all gathered together, and it was the pursuit of higher and quality education. David himself has been studying for over 20 years. With several academic degrees and two PhDs, he said that education had been his best investment, and each programme he studied gave him the best return on investment. He went on to tell why: 

  1. Knowledge  
  1. Self-confidence  
  1. Career progression  
  1. Discovering new horizons  
  1. Applicable learning – learn it today and apply it today!  

Finally, the Q&A round! The Dean himself answered several questions by the students from the questions about the programme, the payment plan, eligibility requirements, the study schedules, and many more.   

Watch the recordings of the live sessions held by Dr. iur. David Costa to find out for yourself if any questions that you might have have already been answered.  

Zoom conference recording 1
Zoom conference recording

It is indeed a very informative session. Would you like to attend a similar session in the future? Let us know in the comments section below, and we will notify you of the dates for future live session.

How does the food you eat affect your brain, and can it make you a better student?

If you ask me, the brain is the most essential part of the human body. Some of you might disagree with me and say it is the heart, lungs, liver, or left pinky finger that is more important, and you might be right, with valid reasons. The fact is, without the brain, nothing else matters. A body without brain activity is just a shell.

So, taking care of the brain, nurturing, and exercising it is crucial if you need to perform at your best. In my opinion, it is more important to keep your brain at peak efficiency than it is to keep your body in the best of conditioning. And like everything else that is related to your body – what you eat is critical in its development.

The brain. Photo credit: unsplash.com/Alina Grubnyak

The Brain

If you removed all the moisture from your brain, what are you left with? Breaking down your dehydrated brain into its constitutional nutritional content, most of its weight comes from the following:

  • Fats, aka lipids
  • Proteins and amino acids
  • Micronutrients
  • Glucose

Of course, the brain is much more than just the sum of its nutritional parts. However, each part has an important role in your development, functioning, mood, and energy. So that sleepy feeling you get after your third helping of biriyani (a delicious Indian rice dish, a definite must-try!) could simply be the effect of food on your brain.

Fats aka lipids

The brain has the second-highest lipid content behind adipose tissue, and brain lipids constitute 50% of the brain dry weight. Omega 3 and omega 6 are the most essential fats in your brain, and, as they are critical in preventing degenerative brain conditions, must be included in your daily diet. Therefore, eating omega-rich foods is necessary for the creation and maintenance of cell membrane. Some examples of omega-rich foods are: 

Omega-rich food. Photo credit: unsplash.com/Ella Olsson
  • Fish and other seafood (especially cold-water fatty fish, such as salmon, mackerel, tuna, herring, and sardines) 
  • Nuts and seeds (such as flaxseed, chia seeds, and walnuts) 
  • Fortified foods (such as certain brands of eggs, yogurt, juices, milk, soy beverages, and infant formulas)
  • Plant oils (such as flaxseed oil, soybean oil, and canola oil) 

There are, of course, fats that are bad for your body and brain, like saturated and trans fats, and long-term consumption of these may compromise brain health. So, you know what to look out for, a few examples of “bad fats” are: 

Bad fats from junk food (but they are soooo goood!). Photo credit: unsplash.com/Leon Ephraïm
  • Baked goods, such as cakes, cookies and pies
  • Shortening
  • Microwave popcorn
  • Frozen pizza
  • Refrigerated dough, such as biscuits and rolls
  • Fried foods, including french fries, doughnuts and fried chicken
  • Nondairy coffee creamer
  • Stick margarine

I know, that is most of the good things in life. It makes me sad too!

Proteins and amino acids

These are the building blocks of life, of growth, and development. A protein is a chain of amino acids that are connected. They impact how we feel and behave.

Amino acids contain neurotransmitters, which are chemical messengers that transmit a signal from a neuron across the synapse to a target cell, which can be a different neuron, muscle cell, or gland cell. This has an impact on your sleep patterns, mood, weight, etc. 

Different types of foods can have a vastly different impact on how we feel. For example, pasta can give us a feeling of calm, or protein can make us energised. This is why having a balanced diet is essential because you don’t want to swing your mood around too much.

Micronutrients

According to the World Health Organization – micronutrients are vitamins and minerals needed by the body in very small amounts. However, their impact on a body’s health is critical, and deficiency in any of them can cause severe and even life-threatening conditions. They perform a range of functions, including enabling the body to produce enzymes, hormones, and other substances needed for normal growth and development. Micronutrient deficiencies can cause visible and dangerous health conditions, but they can also lead to less clinically notable reductions in energy level, mental clarity, and overall mental capacity. This can reduce educational outcomes, reduce worker productivity, and increase risk from other diseases and health conditions.

Five micronutrients — vitamin B6, vitamin C, vitamin E, magnesium, and zinc — play roles in maintaining the immune function. The following are a few examples of micronutrient rich foods: 

We can get our daily requirement of vitamins from food as well as pills. Photo credit: unsplash.com/Diana Polekhina
  • Vitamin B6 – Chicken, cereals, bananas, pork loin, potatoes with skin
  • Vitamin C – Tomatoes, citrus fruit, sweet peppers, broccoli, kiwi fruit
  • Vitamin E – Sunflower seeds and oil, almonds, safflower oil, peanut butter
  • Magnesium – Whole wheat, legumes, nuts, seeds
  • Zinc – Oysters, beef shank, Alaskan king crab, turkey (dark meat)

Glucose

The human brain only makes up about 2% of our body weight, yet it uses up to 20% of our energy resources. Most of this energy comes from carbohydrates that our body digests to glucose. The brain, specifically the frontal lobe, is so sensitive to drops in glucose levels that a physical change in mental functions becomes visible. 

According to an article by the Harvard Medical School (HMS), brain functions such as thinking, memory, and learning are closely linked to glucose levels and how efficiently the brain uses this fuel source. If there isn’t enough glucose in the brain, for example, neurotransmitters, the brain’s chemical messengers, are not produced, and communication between neurons breaks down. In addition, hypoglycemia, a common complication of diabetes caused by low glucose levels in the blood, can lead to loss of energy for brain function and is linked to poor attention and cognitive function.

The brain is dependent on sugar as its main fuel; it cannot be without it.

Vera Novak, MD, PhD, an HMS associate professor of neurology at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center

Assuming we have carbs on a regular basis, the type of carbohydrates we eat can also have a varied impact on the brain. For example, high glycaemic foods, such as white bread, cause a rapid release of glucose into the blood, followed almost immediately by a quick dip in blood sugar. This results in shortened attention span and mood swings. On the other hand, foods like oats, grains, and legumes release glucose gradually, resulting in a more sustained level of attentiveness. 

Food for a more gradual release of glucose. Photo credit: unsplash.com/Rachael Gorjestani

Again, a balanced intake of carbohydrates is needed to get your brain performing at peak efficiency. 


So, there are tangible benefits to following a diet plan. However, do not go about changing your diet on your own; you never know the impact your diet can have on your body and health. Instead, consult your doctor, a nutritionist, or both, tell them your goals and work with them to develop a dietary plan.

Always consult a healthcare professional before starting. Photo credit: unsplash.com/National Cancer Institute

We would like to hear from you – please comment below on the impact following a diet has had on you. How were you able to stick to your diet?

While our Education Advisors (EA) are no nutritionists, you can always chat LIVE on WhatsApp with one of our Education Advisors for more information on all the 100% online master’s degree programmes we offer and the application process. 

Can exercise make you a better student?

I am the last person on Earth who should be giving any advice on exercise. Exercise has been my mortal enemy for as long as I can remember. I have tried several times to overcome this enemy and to start working out regularly, but I am sorry to say I have fallen short every time. I have at most done only a couple of years of reasonably regular workouts, and that too, not consecutive years. 

In my defence, I have done my best to stay motivated about working out. To that end, I have read and watched what feels like every article, book, and documentary about staying motivated and consistent when working out. So, I guess you could consider me somewhat knowledgeable, at least theoretically, when it comes to working out and the benefits of exercising. 

The benefits of exercising

It cannot be disputed; exercising is undoubtedly beneficial. Whether it is your cardiovascular health, bone health, or even decreasing the risk of diabetes, the benefits of regular exercising are many, and it should be a part of everyone’s lives. But for the majority of us (and I can personally attest to this), health benefits are seldom a motivator for us to go to the gym.

Today, a vast majority of us have a short attention span. As a result, we need things done quickly, require immediate results, or we lose interest. So, focus on the immediate benefits we get from working out to remain motivated, such as the feeling of wellness we get immediately after an exercise session.  

Be willing to be uncomfortable. Be comfortable being uncomfortable. It may get tough, but it’s a small price to pay for living a dream.

Peter McWilliams, New York Times bestselling author

In the first job I had after university, I remember my boss telling me – “If you are comfortable, you are not growing”. It is something that struck me as a truth to be remembered. Of course, there are other sayings – “no pain, no gain”, “feel the burn”, and of course, you hear many stories of top athletes who embraced pain and suffered to reach the pinnacle of their sport. 

No pain. No gain.

If you are not already someone who works out regularly, then in no way am I asking you to go to this extreme for your workout – that would just be unrealistic. But when you start to feel the burn, let it motivate you to push just a little further, and before you know it, you will be running your first marathon. 

Pushing beyond your comfort is something that you learn very quickly when you work out regularly, and you can use your experience from this to push yourself out of the comfort zone in other aspects of your life. You have already seen the benefits of doing so.

So how does exercising help you become a better student?

Improved cognitive function

According to a study by the International Journal of Sports Medicine – research shows that aerobic exercise enhances cognitive function, specifically executive functions. These results provide partial support for the benefit of acute aerobic exercise on cognitive flexibility.

It works, even if you just go a couple of times a week

According to a study published in the Journal of Health Psychology – regular exercise is beneficial, even if it is two or three times a week. Some of the benefits include:

  • Significant decreases in perceived stress, emotional distress, smoking, alcohol, and caffeine consumption
  • Increase in healthy eating, emotional control, maintenance of household chores, attendance to commitments, monitoring of spending, and an improvement in study habits

Discipline 

 You have to work at building discipline

The above point shows that exercising, even if it is two or three times a week, helps build discipline and self-regulatory behaviour. Discipline helps in completing tasks and assignments before a deadline. Without working on cultivating your discipline, you will miss deadlines and fall behind on completing other tasks. If you practice going to a gym regularly and eating healthier, you will cultivate and develop your discipline. After all, discipline is also a muscle that needs to be worked on. 

Keystone habit

Keystone habits are habits that automatically lead to multiple positive behaviours and positive effects in your life. These habits spark chain reactions that help other good habits take hold.

Charles Duhigg (author of The Power of Habit)
Charles Duhigg at TechCocktail in 2012

According to research, regular exercise, at least three times a week, is a keystone habit. It acts as a trigger that helps to start eating better, be more productive, have more patience, be less stressed, drink less alcohol, reduce smoking, and study better. 

So, does exercising help you become a better student by helping you study better? Studies have shown that it does. 

Will you be able to see a tangible impact? I don’t know. I guess it will depend on the individual.

But if there is one thing that I have taken away from this, it is to push yourself beyond your comfort zone. It is the only way to grow. 

Push yourself beyond your comfort zone

If you work out regularly, share your experience with us on staying motivated and cultivating this habit. Comment are open. 

Chat LIVE on WhatsApp with one of our Education Advisors for more information on all the 100% online master’s degree programmes we offer and the application process. 

#DILO – A day in the life an RKC Master’s student – David

As a former Education advisor, if I had to pick one of the most frequently asked questions by prospective students, it would be “How many hours do I need to study?”  

The vast majority (if not all) of our students are working and leading hectic professional lives. Some are motivated and have already decided to undertake a master’s, while others contemplate the unknowns of an online programme. In my experience, two things affect their decision the most.   

First – finances, and second, being able to strike the perfect work, study, and life balance. While I cannot completely help you with the finances (partially yes – check out the discount offers currently being offered on our online MBA, MSc, and LL.M programmes), I thought what I could do to help was to bring some facts to light about the other unknowns – what does a typical day in the life of an online master’s student look like?  

I asked a few of our students from different walks of life, occupations, and personal situations to answer a few questions on their study tactics and strategies, plans and reality, and so on.  So, through our ‘#DILO ‘a typical day in the life of a master’s student’ blog series every month, we bring to you one of our actual students or alumni sharing the insights.   

Today, we’re looking at David’s typical study days. David, an RKC & University of Cumbria soon-to-be graduate, offered us these answers:  

An Introduction  

Vidhi Kapoor (VK): Which programme did you choose and why?  

David Andaclio (DA):  MBA – International Business. I chose this topic based on my experience and the UoC partnership with Robert Kennedy College in Switzerland and the global diversification of international students.  

Stayed focused and consistent

The Study Plan   

VK : How did you plan to study each module, and what was the reality? How many hours did/do you have to put in each day/or in a week?  

DA: I dedicated time during the week and each day, stayed focused and consistent, and it took approximately 4 hours a day.  

VK: What part of the day did/do you find most suitable to study? (e.g. early mornings, lunch break, evenings, weekends?)  

DA: Early mornings were more suitable for me.  

David allocates approximately 4 hours a day for study

VK: How much time did you devote for each assignment?  

DA: I devoted about 8-12 hours.  

Travelling and Communication  

VK: Did you travel for work? How did travelling impact your ability to study?  

DA: Not at all  

VK: How were you able to interact with peers and/or professors given the time differences?  

DA: Not an issue. [Editor’s note: Interaction is mostly asynchronous through discussion forums] 

A typical day as a master’s student  

VK: What does a typical day as an Online Masters’ student look like for you?  

 DA:I had to learn to balance everyday work and family matters and dedicate time out of each day to the online master’s program. Being consistent and focused was key to managing the process.  

Any advice?  

VK:Any advice you have for students to better plan their studies.  

DA: Yes. Map out a study plan, identify the hours you will spend, develop a framework to stay ahead and once again, be consistent with the task. No procrastination.  

Develop a framework to stay ahead and no procrastination!

Alright friends, this was a sneak peek of a typical day in David’s life as a master’s student. I hope you find it insightful and informative and that it gives you an idea of what to expect when you enrol for our master’s programmes. Watch this space as we have many more interesting insights coming up! 

Celebrating Motherhood: Is it possible to be a working mom and be a master’s student at the same time? The answer will (hopefully) NOT surprise you!

Motherhood is unique for every woman. It’s full of joy, love, challenges, despair, anguish, fun, responsibility, selflessness, and sacrifice.  As it is rightfully said,  

A Mother is an epitome of love, strength, and sacrifice.

A mother makes many sacrifices while raising her family and children. The instinctive selflessness and dedication of a mother make her go to extraordinary lengths to care, protect, and provide for her children. Yet, while tending to the needs of her family, a mother commonly puts her career and further education on the back burner. According to a survey conducted by LinkedIn and Censuswide, nearly half of the working mothers consider a career pivot and prefer not returning to work after maternity leave in the US. And 63% of working mothers who opt to take a career break do so to spend more time with their children.    

Now, if being a career woman, juggling between the roles of a wife and a mother is hard already, then deciding to enhance your career with a master’s education will make life much more challenging. But does it mean a mother cannot pursue her dream of having a job and family together? Should she not be allowed to advance her career?  

The answer lies in what my mother always tells me:  

I can do anything; I am a mother!

That’s right. You can do anything! Being a mother does not mean that you have to sacrifice your career and education goals. On the contrary, achieving that perfect work-life-study balance is very much possible (check out our blog and a short video about work-life balance) and realise your long-awaited dream. All it requires is a mix of planning, dedication, and clear focus on your ultimate goal.  

Here are five tips that can help you better in the transition to a master’s students’ life:  

Find your motivation 

There could be several reasons for continuing education, such as updating your skills, gaining advanced qualifications, adding new knowledge or specialities, career pivot, financial enhancement, or the personal challenge of finally getting that university degree! First, find your motivation, as this motivation will keep you fueled and focused all through your journey of master’s for the next 1 to 2 years. Should you deviate, or lose focus, your motivation will always get you back on track and remind you of your ultimate goal.  

An RKC alumni, Meg Plooy, a mother, a wife, a friend and a (foster) mother of Pitbulls, found her motivation in two things: First, to be an inspiration for her young children and be able to show them that if you work hard, anything is possible. The second was to advance her career opportunities.  

Another master’s alumni, Manal Al-Khaled, shares her motivation, “In 2013, my daughters were only 4 and 5 years old when my husband lost his job due to political unrest in the region (Middle East). There was never a right time to do my Master’s degree. There were always other financial priorities, and with two little kids and a full-time job, time was a luxury I didn’t have much under my control. So I kept postponing it for all the reasons in the world. Then it hit me – it’s now no matter what”.  

Develop and maintain a support network  

One of our students, who is also a mother, suggests reducing personal commitment, waking up early, and staying up till late at night. While this arrangement may not always be possible for everyone, it is necessary to have a cushion, a support system to help you cope with any stressful situation you might face, or in case of emergencies. Do not hesitate to ask for help from your husband, siblings, parents, employer, or even neighbour!  

Don’t be shy and ask for help when needed

Make a plan and work on a schedule  

90% PLAN + 10% EXECUTION = 100% SUCCESS  

Before you even enrol for a master’s, the first focus should be on how you will manage work, home, and studies. Plan a schedule and follow it religiously.  Formulate a 30-60-90 plan according to the number of modules you register yourself for in a given quarter. A 30–60–90-day plan details the targets you plan to accomplish in the first 30, 60, and 90 days of your studies. Set concrete goals and a vision for your abilities at each stage of the plan, that will act as a guiding rope and will constantly move you towards the goal.

Planning your study space at home or work, away from distractions, is also essential. Again, self-organisation is critical to be able to plan efficiently and to be able to execute it successfully.  

Most of RKC’s working mothers planned their days and weeks to strike an optimum balance; they would usually be working during the day on weekdays and allocate study hours to night-time and weekends.  

Meg again: “A good routine and sticking to a schedule [are a must]. The best time to complete my studies was after the kids were in bed, which gave me anywhere from 2 to 2.5 hours each night. In addition, I used Monday through Thursday as “school nights”, which ensured I was still getting downtime over the weekends. This helped me to stay focused and manage time effectively”.  

Find a study buddy  

Trust that you are not alone in this situation. Getting back to being a student and coping with an online learning environment can be pretty daunting. Having a study buddy will help to relieve your stress and keep tabs on the OnlineCampus class discussions and assignments. For online education students, if you can look for a study partner in the same time zone, it will be more convenient for your interaction.  

Having a study partner can help relieve the study stress and help in class discussions and assignments

Believe in yourself!  

As one of our students suggests, have the confidence to believe in yourself and not procrastinate. Obtaining a master’s degree is a life-changing experience for most, and you must believe in yourself that you can achieve this goal.  

Naomi, an MA Leading Innovation and Change (now MBA LIC) graduate, gave herself this pep talk: “Yes, women face issues with their husbands, childcare, and the fact that society doesn’t expect too high an education from women. My friends think having a bachelor’s degree should be enough for me, especially because I own my own business. To the society around me: “what else are you looking for in life”? Also, challenges with workplace issues, especially when women are working for other employers. Lack of funds to sponsor oneself to school, tight work schedules, and traffic to get back home are all challenges. Eiiii!! Naomi, everything is possible. Don’t think of your tight schedule at your office, the needs of your staff, or the number of employees under you. Don’t even think your husband or your three children would be hindrances. Remember, Naomi, that with determination and hard work, you can make it”.  

I agree the journey may not be a walk in the park, but taking one step at a time will bring you closer to your ultimate goal – attaining the Masters’ qualification. So many working mothers have successfully achieved their educational goals, and so can you.  

Happy mother’s day to all of you out there, and if you have a story about being a working mother and a master’s student you would like to share, the floor is yours!

Traditional Media vs Social Media – Understanding which works best for you!

Putting what we do “out there” is a fundamental part of human nature. We like to be appreciated and, unfortunately, thrive on the approval of others.

My story and my 15-minutes of fame

When I was a 19-year-old university student, I remember just sitting around on campus one day with friends, when out of the blue, an MTV truck pulls up. A popular VJ (video jockey) at that time jumps out and start randomly picking up students to participate in one of their challenges. My friend was picked, and he picked me as a part of his three-member team for the challenge. Long story short, we won and a few weeks after the episode aired nationally. Within minutes of the episode airing, friends and family from all over the country, some of whom I never knew existed, started calling my home (no mobile phones in those days, only those brick mobile phones existed) and congratulating my parents. Though it lasted only for a couple of weeks, I became an instant celebrity on campus. And I was just a supporting act in my team. But I had my 15-minutes of fame, and I loved it. I am still talking about it more than 20 years after the event. 

But I digress. My 15-minutes of fame has nothing to do with this article. I just wanted to talk about it. Again.

The point of my story

But, if you think of me as a product, and of MTV as traditional media, they got me limited national recognition, albeit only for a short time and only to a very niche market (viewers of MTV). If today I were to put up a similar video on social media, I could probably get the same 15-minutes of fame, only to an even more niche audience (my followers and subscribers).  

Social media platforms started as a way for friends to connect and share their life stories, but today have become an integral part of a company’s media strategy. You need to understand the differences and similarities between traditional marketing and social media to know which approach works best for you.

Differences/Similarities between traditional marketing and social media

The Reach 

Both traditional media and social media can reach either a large or niche audience. In this regard, they are similar to each other. Traditional marketing can reach a vast audience: a good example of this is the Super Bowl commercials. Super Bowl commercials have become a cultural phenomenon alongside the game itself, as many viewers watch the game only to see the commercials. The cost of a 30-second commercial during the Super Bowl LIV in 2020 reached up to $5.6 million, with the estimated reach in terms of audience of about 100 million viewers. Social media can also have a mass-market reach: you might have a large subscriber base that you built over time, or you could pay for a large number of people to be reached – for videos and content to be sent to a large audience, for banner ads, and popups. 

The Budweiser Clydesdales, mascots of the U.S. beer brand Budweiser; its parent company Anheuser-Busch frequently advertises during the Super Bowl and have won USA Today’s annual Super Bowl ad survey 14 times in its history.

But alternatively, both forms of media can reach a niche audience. In the case of traditional media, placing ads on a billboard or a local new paper can target only a specific community or an advertisement in a trade specific magazine can be used to target a specific industry. And, in the case of social media, ads can be targeted towards specific geographies, age groups, gender, search history, purchase behaviour, etc.

The Cost

 Traditional media can be expensive. A good example of the cost is again the Super Bowl ads. In 2020, a 30-second ad slot cost upwards of 5.5 million US dollars. And that is, of course, in addition to the cost of making the ad, from hiring an entire film crew with equipment, the location, the scriptwriters, the directors, the editors, the actors, etc. It can all add up to a pretty penny. Even advertising on billboards – there is the photographer’s cost, the models, the photoshoot, the cost of renting the billboard, printing/painting and maintaining, etc.

How much do you want to spend on marketing?

Social media, on the other hand, can be economical. A page on Facebook or LinkedIn can be free, and depending on your targeting parameters, the cost to promote the page can also be inexpensive. In addition, unless you are creating a professional ad, the cost to create content can be minimal; all you need is a phone with a camera and internet connection. Also, you don’t have to spend money on a physical space. Everything is virtual. 

The Workforce

Delivering on a traditional media marketing project can be very human-resource intensive. You would typically need highly trained and talented individuals, working together as a team, to deliver on even a 30-second advertisement that might just end up tanking.

Social media, on the other hand, what most mid-size companies require is 5 to 7, maybe ten people, working from home on their laptops. This may have seemed weird (or funny, in a weird way) pre-pandemic – I’m betting you haven’t batted an eye right now.

The Turnaround Time

Another simple and noticeable difference is the time taken in delivering a campaign. I am sure companies were hard at work the day after (probably even earlier) the Super Bowl ad aired, working to next year’s ad. It takes a lot of effort, planning, and coordinating to put a high-profile ad together. Even a low-profile photoshoot can take time to get right. Planning a social media campaign, on the other hand, can be done in what feels like a blink of an eye, and hence can be done multiple times a quarter. 

Time and tide wait for none

Permanence

Once an ad goes live on a traditional media platform, there is no taking backsies. There is no quick way to edit a live ad, and removing it permanently will take time and result in the loss of investment in the creation of the campaign. Social media, on the other hand – you can create, edit, and delete in seconds.

Fake News

This is where traditional media still scores over social media. People still trust the content put up on traditional media over that shown on social media. There is no way of policing all the content that gets put up on social media, and anyone can create a false campaign designed to spread disinformation. In contrast, something that’s put up on CNN or the BBC or The New York Times is more believable; this is because they have created trust over a long time and are more easily brought to account for creating or distributing false information. Sometimes the credibility of traditional media is more important than the instant gratification of social media.


These are just a few differences/similarities between the two forms of media. Figuring out what works for you and your firm is vital to planning an effective marketing campaign. What has worked for you in the past, and how did you and your firm arrive at your decision? Comment below, we hope to learn from you as well. 

In the meantime, we offer 100% online master degree programmes such as – MSc Digital BusinessMSc MarketingMBA Digital Marketing, and MBA Media Leadership to hopefully help you make more informed decisions. Chat LIVE on WhatsApp with one of our Education Advisors for more information on all the programmes we offer and the application process.

Step-by-step: how to write an effective abstract for academic papers

As a Master-level student you will be asked to write abstracts for your papers, or for your dissertation. Writing an abstract is not rocket science, but it is somewhat different from “regular” writing. I have summed up here advice from professors and librarians on how to write an effective abstract for academia. A step-by-step approach to writing abstracts is proposed, and this should enable you to write effective abstracts.

If you are still reading, my first paragraph is a good abstract. Yay!

Why are abstracts important?

In academic writing the use of “abstracts” is particularly important, for practical reasons. With the amount of reading one needs to do when studying/researching, being able to quickly tell what a given paper is about (before the paywall) gives abstracts a crucial value.

Writing is an integral part of our professional and personal lives. Every day we write texts, emails, letters, applications, comments on social media, blogs, etc. Professionally, we may be required to communicate via email, reports, blog posts and articles, or team chat (more so since the pandemic started).

There may be a few commonalities within each type of writing, but each writing type brings its own format, tone, formalities (formal or informal), and target audiences.

You are probably well versed with the personal and professional writing styles. Still, as a student, you will encounter an entirely different type of writing – academic writing. Academic writing is a more formal style of writing, used in universities and scholarly publications, typically involving literature reviews, case studies, and application of theory in “practice”. A subject for another blog post, so stay tuned.

For the typical master’s level student at Robert Kennedy College, academic writing is a new form of writing. From the module assignments to the dissertation at the end of the programme, the students are expected to excel in this writing style.

What are abstracts?

The abstract is typically a single 200 to 300 words paragraph, “selling” the rest of the paper/article they describe to the interested reader. The abstract is not, formally speaking, part of the paper it describes, which is why it normally appears before the table of contents and is not listed in it.

The abstract must provide information on why the paper should be read in the first place – so why the research is important. For assignments, where students are encouraged to practice abstract writing in view of the dissertation, the abstracts typically try to convince the markers that the brief was addressed in its entirety. If you can imagine Jack Nicholson, do it: “the brief, the whole brief, and nothing but the brief”.

The abstract must also provide information on what was done, and how. For a dissertation, the student will concisely describe the research methodology. For an assignment paper, the same (“I have critically reviewed literature on X, Y, and Z. I have then analysed a case study on A using B and C models/frameworks, etc.”).

The abstract must also give a glimpse into what was found. Not full details, but enough to entice an interested reader to click-through to the full article. For dissertations and assignments (where the reader does not have a choice, but must read the full paper anyway), you want to reassure them (they are typically marking your work) that you have not only addressed the brief, but also found some interesting things.

The final function of the abstract is to provide a take-home message. A concise and factual conclusion that the reader can use as justification for their reading the paper in full.

What abstracts are not

In our work with mature students like yourself, the most common confusions arise between abstracts and executive summaries, and between abstracts and introductions.

Abstracts are not executive summaries

Executive summaries are a business-environment construct, whose purpose is to give the reader (executives, hence the name) enough information to make an informed decision, without having to read the full report/paper. Unlike abstracts, executive summaries are much longer (one to two pages), are much more structured (with internal headings much like this post, allowing executives to orient themselves within the summary), and must provide clear action points/decisions to be made after the supporting arguments have been presented.

Abstracts are not introductions

Although there are similarities between the two constructs, abstracts are not introductions either.

An introduction goes deeper into the WHAT (what your topic is, or what you are addressing in the paper) and the WHY (why is this important? Background context) of your work.

It will also lay out your own stance or focus given the context and the topic, and provide a “map” to your paper, describing what each section of it discusses. The introduction is typically written in the future (“will discuss X in section 1, etc.”) whereas the abstract is typically written in the past tense, or present, but never future.

How to write an effective introduction – a topic for another blog post!

Conclusion

Now that we know what an abstract is, and what it is not, here are the five steps to writing a compelling abstract that I promised in the … abstract 😊

1. Define what your work is about: provide a precise statement of the problem

2. Give some background information: provide enough background information for your study or research that describes both the main topic and the problem.

3. What and how you did what you did: summarize the research method & designs you employed, stating the key techniques used.

4. Findings: describe your findings. This part attracts the most attention as the reader is intrigued to know about the results.

5. Conclusion: Provide a brief and precise conclusion. An overstated conclusion can mislead the readers, so do not overkill.

Not everyone is born with a flair for academic writing, but, like many things in life, this can be learnt and, with experience, can also be improved over time. All you require is some guidance and practice.

Our highly qualified, world-class faculty provide you with in-depth knowledge of the course while guiding you on how to best write your assignments and prepare for the dissertation. Talk to our education advisors and enrol today for the online master’s programme that is closest to your interests.

Understanding International Intellectual Property Rights

After reading the title of this week’s blog, I am sure some of you might be wondering why I chose to write on this topic; the blog will be long, convoluted, and tedious. And you would be wrong. This blog is going to be short and sweet.

There is no such thing as International Intellectual Property (IP) Rights. The end. 😀 

Copyright is a type of intellectual property right

The fact of the matter is IP rights are territorial. Each country creates its IP rights through national laws, and the laws can govern conduct only within that nation’s boundaries. However, there are several international IP treaties that establish ground rules such as how long should copyright or pattern last, defining what constitutes a trademark, etc. What these treaties do for the countries that join them is provide standards and a baseline for all to follow, thereby providing more protection and confidence to creators and inventors seeking to safeguard their creations.

The most crucial minimum standard set up by these treaties is the principle of National Treatment.

Under national treatment, a country that grants particular rights, benefits, or privileges to its own citizens must also grant those advantages to the citizens of other states while they are in that country. In the context of international agreements, a state must provide equal treatment to citizens of the other states participating in the agreement. Imported and locally produced goods should be treated equally — at least after the foreign goods have entered the market. The same goes for services, trademarks, and copyrights and patents.

Principles of the trading system, World Trade Organization

It means that countries that have signed these treaties must guarantee the same IP protection to foreigners that they provide to their citizens.

One of the first international treaties to recognise creators’ rights was the Berne Convention in 1886 for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works. It provides creators such as authors, musicians, poets, painters etc., with the means to control how their work is used, by whom, and on what terms.

I know this is cliché, but international IP rights have taken on new importance with globalisation. Most significant businesses operate beyond their local boundaries and are truly multinational.  Trade is global, and there is no iron curtain. So, it is understandable that companies or creators want to protect their creations and maximise returns on their investments. This results in IP rights playing a significant role in international trade.

Sellers of pure IP products such as movies, literature, art, software, etc., will usually only sell to countries with robust IP rights.

Movies, literature, art.. Pure IP products

Today, the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), an agency under the United Nations, is responsible for promoting and protecting intellectual property across the world by cooperating with countries and international organizations. However, even if a signatory country does renege on IP rights, there is still no way to enforce any punishment, as IP rights are territorial and have to be enforced by the county itself.

It is also a fact that five developed countries receive around 90% of all technology royalties and licencing fees. This means that for developing nations to have access to the latest technologies or medication, they will have to pay a premium. As a result, developed and developing countries have very different attitudes towards IP.

Developed or first world countries try to maximise the economic benefits they get for their creations/services through strong IP rights/laws, arguing that robust IP rights are necessary to protect their significant investments in developing their products. Hence, if a developing country has strong IP laws, it is generally considered an excellent trading partner by most developed countries.

On the other hand, developing nations need modern technology and medication to advance and compete with other countries and improve the standard of living of their citizens. Developing nations can view strong IP rights as a tool the developed nations use to either deny or restrict access to modern technology, preventing them from growing or, in some cases, even surviving, making them reliant on the developed nation.

So, who is right? We all fall on one side or the other, and both have valid points of view.

Understanding International IP is not easy. It can be convoluted and complex, and at the end of the day, it depends on the laws of the country you operate in.

Get a handle on international business and learn to make informed decisions with our one year 100% online master’s degree programmes. Chat LIVE on WhatsApp with one of our Education Advisors for more information on all the programmes we offer and the application process.

Are you stressed? Here are 5 ways how to cope with stress

I cannot stress enough (pun intended) that stress is part of everyone’s life, in one way or another: it is the proportion that differs.

We all are different and handle stress in different ways.

I recently moved from one province to another. Trust me, it was more stressful than moving countries as I did almost four years back.  I stopped to think, why? I was venturing out onto an unknown territory in both cases, I knew one or a few friends and family there, and it was a new challenge in my life. Then what was different, I wondered. Upon analysing the situation, I came to an interesting conclusion. There were a few things that were different in the first case: 1. I was more willing/open to change 2. I was mentally better prepared 3. I was young(er). (But does that matter? Check out our blog: Age is just a number) 4. I had greater acceptability for risks 5. The fear of the outcome was significantly less/or none at all. 

By definition, stress is a feeling of physical, psychological, or emotional tension. It can originate from stress-causing factors or stressors; that makes you feel nervous, angry, or frustrated. The feeling of stress that continues even after the stressor (the event or the thought) is gone becomes anxiety. The body, as a result, requires immediate attention. And like I said before, it’s one’s response to stress, and it is stress management that makes a big difference to their well-being. 

Types of stress

There are two types of stress: 

  1. Acute stress: acute stress refers to situational events relating to the present or near future. These can be small everyday situations like meeting a deadline, getting late to work or missing an appointment. Better time management can help you become more resilient towards acute stress. 
  2. Chronic stress: when you are exposed to high-pressure situations for prolonged intervals, it leads to chronic stress. This may lead to other symptoms of stress such as depression and anxiety. 

The stressors can be of three types:

  1. Routine stress such as work-related stress, studies, financial stress, etc.
  2. Unexpected stress like change in location, job 
  3. Traumatic stress that results from an accident, social, economic, or environmental disaster, etc.
Financial stress is a kind of routine stress

And I think that some stresses just fall under all the above three categories. For instance, Covid-19 that started as traumatic stress, has seeped into our lives as routine stress. 

We live in a very dynamic, ever-changing, highly competitive world with an information overload through various media including social-media. In the concrete jungle we live and work in, living in stress has become a new normal, and it’s down to ‘survival of the fittest. Because more than what stress you have, how you manage it is more important. Here are five ways how one can manage stress.

5 strategies to cope with stress

Time Management

Time management is key for successful and efficient life

I believe the key to a successful and efficient life is better time management. Most of our stresses that lead to more tensions can be warded off simply by managing your time more effectively. This is true in any part of our lives. If you are following our #DILO series – A day in the life of an RKC Student, you have noticed that all the RKC students and alumni trust that better time management is essential for work-life balance and successful completion of the master’s programme. Also, check out our blog on time management.

Yoga & Exercise

Set a routine that allows some exercise, a physical activity, going outdoors, or follow a sport. There are several forms of yoga such as hot yoga, power yoga, Iyengar yoga, Bikram yoga, and many more. Exercise and/or yoga relieve your mind and body from mental and muscular stress. It balances hormones and reduces stress. 

Meditate

Quiet your mind from unnecessary thoughts

As I mentioned before, stress is caused by an event or thought – the stressor. It is, therefore, necessary to quiet your mind and free it from unnecessary thoughts. Meditation has proven to be an effective tool in managing stress and leading a stress-free life. 

Eat healthily

Prepare a meal plan and avoid processed foods

Eating healthy should be a lifestyle you choose to live. In today’s world, everyone is rushed and mindlessly following the rat race from morning till night, meeting deadlines, jobs, handling personal responsibilities, relationships. There is no time to eat, let alone eat a healthy meal. Just a quick grab fast food has become a lifestyle for many. Eating a healthy balanced diet helps to develop a strong immune system that helps in dealing with stress. Prepare a meal plan for the week and buy the ingredients. While healthy eating planning can be daunting, it can be easily managed by prepping for a week or few days in advance. Prepare home cooked meals with fresh vegetables and fruits and avoid the processed foods. You may also want to cut down on sugar and artificially flavoured drinks and watch out fo the portion sizes.

Talk and share

Vent off some steam every now and then

If you feel stress symptoms, don’t be wary about sharing your feelings with friends, family, or colleagues. Often we realise that we are not the only ones dealing with stress, Vent off some steam now and then and that helps too.

While it may seem like stress management can be stressful, the above five ways prove to be simple yet effective means to cope with stress. It is essential to take care of your well-being. 

Stressed about which masters programme you should pursue, how online education works, or what the application process is? Don’t worry, we got you. Talk to our advisors today on WhatsApp to get answers to these questions.