#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.

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. 

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.

Age is just a number! It is never too late to learn.

I went all the way from kindergarten to MBA without a break. I am sure there are a lot of you out there who might have done the same. Looking back, I began to realise that I did not value the education I got. I don’t think it was even the education I wanted.  

Kindergarten to University

On the other hand, I know that a vast majority of people in this world are not as blessed as I was and don’t even have access to basic education. Whatever the reason people miss out on an education – social, cultural, economic, familial responsibility, geographical, political, etc., it is never too late to get an education, especially if you are driven for success.

Human beings have started to live longer lives now than at any time in our history – the miracle of modern technology. We try our best to shorten our lives – global warming, deforestation, polluting the planet, genetically modifying food (there are both pros and cons here), hunting animal species to extension, wars, etc. Still, we find ways to work around these self-created issues and extend our lives. This means gone are the days when you could retire at 60 and hope to live out the rest of your days in peace and happiness. Today, you will most likely run out of money.

Celebrating RKC 2018 Graduates @ York St John University

I have started this blog by listing three points that I feel are relevant to why mature students go back to school:

  1. Got yourself a degree that is not in line with your dreams or career growth path
  2. Did not get the education that you think you deserved (due to reasons out of your control at that time)
  3. Need to stay relevant and competitive in today’s work environment by adding value to yourself

Once you have decided to go back to school, there are several points you have to consider. Ask yourself:

  1. Which programme works for you? Which will add the most value to you?
  2. What certificate do you want to get – bachelor/master’s degree, professional certification, etc.?
  3. Do you want to study full-time, part-time, or online?
  4. From which university do you want your degree and why?
  5. Work-Family-Education balance, can you do it and how?
  6. How much do you want to spend? Can you make space for the programme in your budget?

So, you have decided on your budget, the programme, the university, worked out a study plan and budgeted for the additional expense. But now, there are a few more challenges or fears that have cropped up, and you are not alone. The following are four challenges/fears that most mature students face and suggestions for overcoming them.

  1. Learning to learn again: While it might be a few years since you last studied, you haven’t been wasting your time. You have been learning your job and gaining confidence and proficiency in it. Use this confidence to get back in the groove of learning; it is like riding a bike, you never forget. And the fact that you are back to learning as a mature student speaks volumes for your motivation. Also, you won’t be the only mature student – work together as a group to overcome your fears. 
  2. Fear of assignments: Assignments can be daunting. Researching, referencing, planning, writing, and submitting a 5000-words assignment on time can scare anyone, especially if you have never done it before or if it has been many years since you last had to do it. The fact is, like any skill, assignment writing can be learnt. Maybe do a short course on how to research and write an assignment before joining the programme, or if that is not an option, you can find plenty of “how-to” videos online. Ask your professors for help and pro-tips – that is one reason they are there, to help. Ask your fellow students how they do it. But at the end of the day, the only way to gain proficiency in any skill is to do it.
  3. Work-Family-Education balance: In my opinion, this is the one point that will constantly be a bother. You start with a plan, but like Field Marshal Helmuth Karl Bernhard von Moltke said, “no plan survives first contact with the enemy”. So, keep an eye on the situation and evolve your plans accordingly. Life is change, adapt or get left behind.
  4. Don’t have the skills:  This may or may not be accurate, but if you think like this, then what you don’t have is confidence. Remember, all skills can be learnt, which is why you are here to learn. You have work and life experience, which typical on-campus, fresh-out-of-school students might not have. Use it, you will find you are more skilled than you think. And always remember, this was your choice, you are already more motivated than most to do well.  
Gregory Foster, one of RKC’s mature students who graduated from the University of Cumbria with an MBA in Leadership and Sustainability, received the university’s Postgraduate Student of the Year prize in 2018

Don’t forget your motivation for choosing to learn again. Choosing to become a mature student. 

If you have chosen to learn, then Chat LIVE on WhatsApp with one of our Education Advisors for more information on all the management and business law programmes we offer (Bachelor and Master’s degrees) and the application process. I hope to one day be able to feature your story on our blog!

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

Continuing with our blog series bringing you answers to some of the questions we at Robert Kennedy College (RKC) get frequently from students who are looking to join one of our online programmes. We asked some of our past and current students to share their thoughts and opinions, to give their feedback on how they handled online learning challenges. Hopefully, this will in turn help you make an informed decision.

Blog series on ‘a day in the life of an online master’s degree student

Let us learn from those who came before and see if what worked for them will also help you become a better student! 

Andy is from the United Kingdom and has completed our 100% Online Master of Business Administration that we offer through an exclusive partnership with the University of Cumbria, U.K., and this is what he had to say about what worked for him. 

An Introduction

Who are you, really? 

Andy W

Which Uni are you studying with? 

University of Cumbria

Which programme did you choose and why? 

Master of Business Administration (MBA)

The Study Plan

Plan the best way to study

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?

I planned to allocate a certain number of hours per week on fixed evenings and the occasional weekend, but it didn’t work out that way. I’m definitely a “deadlines” person, so the regular modular structure of the course helped keep things ticking along nicely, with draft essays and other assignments keeping me focused on making good progress. It became more of a challenge with the dissertation as there was a) a hiatus after finishing the last essay and then being allowed to start the dissertation, so I completely lost momentum and, b) there were no intermediate milestones/deadlines to keep me ticking along. As a result, I had to be much more disciplined and ended up taking blocks of time off work to complete the dissertation. I clearly needed to get up a head of steam and tackle sections in a block rather than do a little often with stop-start not working for me.

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

As above, longer blocks of time suited me best, rather than a particular time of day. That said, because I was also doing a full-time job and other activities, I was mostly restricted to evenings and weekends.

How much time did you devote to each assignment? 

Unknown, sorry – I didn’t keep a log. 

Travelling and Communication 

Travel and staying connected

How did travelling impact your ability to study? 

Work travel tends to be occasional long-haul flights for me, which helped as I could download relevant readings and could then take notes, etc. on the flight. Most of my study time, however, was spent at home. Travelling was not applicable in my case.

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

The forums were okay, but this is the biggest issue with remote courses in my experience. You simply don’t get the same level of interaction, shared learning, and general camaraderie/shared experience as you do with face-to-face learning. This was particularly noticeable with the excellent week-long sustainability residential in Cumbria, especially when juxtaposed against the comparative isolation (even loneliness) of the dissertation. The benefits of remote learning definitely outweigh the restrictions, however. 

A typical day as a master’s student 

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

Lots of evening reading during the modules, getting the interim assignments complete and then a bigger burst of effort in two or three day block for the final assessment submissions. The dissertation was a whole new ball game with longer blocks of time needed to really focus on getting the job done. 

Any advice? 

Listen to advice, but figure out what works for you
Any advice you have for students to better plan their studies. 

I can only suggest people find their own rhythm – if you’re very disciplined, then a little often may work for you, but I’m not like that so had to adapt to fit my own way of working within the wider context of work and MBA deadlines. 


I hope this blog has answered some of your questions, and please watch this space for similar posts. You can also chat LIVE on WhatsApp with one of our Education Advisors for more information on all the programmes we offer, the application process, and for details on discounts we might be offering at this time.

#DILO (A day in the life of) a master’s student - Dina

Continuing with our blog series bringing you answers to some of the questions we at Robert Kennedy College (RKC) get asked frequently by students who are looking to join one of our online programmes, we asked some of our past and current students to share their thoughts and opinions, to give their feedback on how they handled the challenges of online learning. Hopefully, this will help you make an informed decision.

Let us learn from those who came before and see if what worked for them will also help you become a better student!

Dina is from Jordan and has completed our online MBA programme, this is what she had to say about what worked for her.

An Introduction

Who are you, really?  

I am Dina, from Jordan  

Which Uni are you studying with?  

University of Cumbria, U.K.

Which programme did you choose and why?  

MBA in Leadership and Sustainability  

The Study Plan  

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?  

I took one module at a time, and I dedicated one day a week for studying – usually during the weekend, and that’s like 7-8 hours a week, and of course, I did more work for the assignments.

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

Weekends the entire day and sometimes early mornings before going to work.

How much time did you devote to each assignment?  

I used to check the assignment at the beginning of each module and take notes as I go through the week. I usually started working on the assignments pretty early so that I had a few weeks before the deadline to plan and manage my time.  

Travelling and Communication

How did travelling impact your ability to study?  

Travelling was not required for my work.

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

The forums really helped and made the communication process easier.

A typical day as a master’s student

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

I wake up, check my email, check the forum, go to work and read an article or study a bit before bed. But the majority of the studying was usually done on the weekends.

Any advice?  

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

I was sceptical at first, and I thought that I might lose interest in studying, but each module was different. All you need is a little time management and commitment.  


I hope this blog has answered some of your questions, and please watch this space for similar blogs in the future. 

You can now chat LIVE on WhatsApp with one of our Education Advisors for more information on all the programmes we offer, the application process, and for information on discounts we might be offering at this time.  

What I wish I knew before starting a business -Robert Kennedy College Blog

Once upon a time (about twelve or thirteen years ago), I decided to try my hand at starting a manufacturing business. Why? I was in my 20’s, with an MBA and a few years of work experience under my belt, and I had a dream – to leave my mark on this world, to become the next Henry Ford or Steve Jobs, and I figured, if things go to hell, I was young enough to risk it and still have time to bounce back!

There is of course a lot more to this story and my thought process that lead to my decision, but this is not the point of this post. The point is, when you do decide to start a business there is this steep learning curve, and as the business is your own, there are a lot of factors that must be considered while making decisions. 

Many factors that must be considered while making decisions

Like me, if you came from the corporate world, still early in your career with limited managerial experience, you probably just had to look after a very specific task – sales, marketing, a small part of finance, etc. But when you are the head of your own business (no matter how small), you need to be involved in everything! Business Plan, Finance, Revenue, Marketing, Sales…

Strategic Management

When you have so much on your plate there is a risk of your dropping the plate and causing it to break into many tiny pieces (the “plate” here is your business :D).

Understanding how business works, the points to consider before making a decision, and knowing and correctly identifying the different sources of information on which to base your decisions is paramount for the success of your business. This is where strategic management takes on a whole new importance in your thought process. It does not matter how big or small your business/company is, start thinking strategically!! 

Think Strategically

Three principles underlying strategy: (1) Creating a “unique and valuable” [market] position (2) Making trade-offs by choosing “what not to do”, and (3) Creating “fit” by aligning company activities to one another to support the chosen strategy 

Prof. Michael E. Porter, Ph.D., Harvard Business School

The simplest definition of strategic management is “the formulation and implementation of the major goals and initiatives taken by an organisation’s top managers on behalf of owners, based on consideration of resources and an assessment of the internal and external environments in which the organisation operates.” Strategic management provides overall direction to a business and involves specifying the organisation’s objectives, developing policies and plans to achieve those objectives, and then allocating resources to implement the plans (source: Strategic Management for Voluntary Nonprofit Organizations, Roger Courtney).

A system of finding, formulating, and developing a doctrine that will ensure longterm success if followed faithfully.

Dr. Vladimir Kvint, Chair of the Department of Financial Strategy at the Moscow School of Economics of the Lomonosov Moscow State University

So, how do you go about making your life (business really) easier by implementing strategic management?

First, identify your goals – let’s say your goal is to increase annual sales, but what does that actually mean? It is just too vague. Quantify and be specific. As an example, our goal is to sell 100 ballpoint pens and 200 ink pens by the end of the next financial year.

Now, how do you go about achieving this goal?

  • Start by identifying what goods you are going to be manufacturing (in our example they are pens), then the market to which you will be selling these manufactured goods.
  • Next, organise the resources you will need to achieve your goals, like putting in place purchasing and supply chain management to ensure a timely supply of raw materials, people and equipment to carry out the manufacturing process, marketing and sales team to bring in clients, and employing or contracting an adequate support staff (if you are unable to do it yourself) to carry out other support functions.
  • There are also a number of external forces that can have an impact on your business strategy. One of the tools most used in understanding these forces and helping in developing a strategy is Michael E. Porter’s Five Forces Framework which is a business analysis model that helps explain why various industries are able to sustain different levels of profitability. The Five Forces model is widely used to analyse and determine the corporate strategy of a company.

Porter’s five forces are:

  • Competition in the industry
  • Potential of new entrants into the industry
  • Power of suppliers
  • Power of customers
  • Threat of substitute products
A graphical representation of Porter’s five forces

Understanding the principles behind strategic management might take time, but when it comes right down to it, you will find that it is basically logic. The challenge is in getting the right data from the right sources on which you can base your decisions, and of course the methodology you use to analyse the data to arrive at your decisions. A wrong strategic decision may end up costing you dearly.  


This is why strategy and strategic management is an important module in a number of our online master’s degree programmes

You can also chat LIVE on WhatsApp with one of our Education Advisors for more information on the programmes we offer, the application process, and for information on discounts we might be offering at this time.

Women in RKC – Elizabeth (Liza) Rudolfsson, MA Leading Innovation and Change, York St John University, UK

Continuing with our blog series featuring our female students, we asked our students to share their experiences with us – the challenges of getting back to school, of managing work and study along with family, and the unique challenges they faced being female students.

Liza is a graduate of our MA programme in Leading Innovation and Change (MALIC) through our exclusive partnership with York St John University, UK. This programme has been discontinued, and has reincarnated as a 100% online MBA programme in Leading Innovation and Change

Liza Rudolfsson being the model student

Now, let us see what she has to say!

Who is … 

A short profile

Sahil Devasia (SD): Who are you, really?

Elizabeth (Liza) Rudolfsson (ER): Creative and hard-working business consultant with roots in the construction industry.

Getting back into education

Your story of getting back to do a Master’s degree

SD: What was the driving force behind your enrolling for an online degree? Who inspired you? What motivated you?

ER: Interest in the subject. Hope that I could apply this new knowledge directly with my customers. Watched a test video with George Boak, which convinced me to choose YSJ.

SD: What were the thoughts/situations/people/challenges holding you back from starting (if any)? How did you overcome them?

ER: People around me were surprised (I’m 63) but supportive. Luckily, I underestimated the time it would take, or I would never have started.

SD: What surprised you the most when you started your studies?

ER: How much time was required! The high level of ambition. The fun of having ‘classmates’ from all over the world.

SD: Do you feel there are unique challenges women face when deciding to get back into education?

ER: Not really.

Getting the degree

The work to get the degree – what did you learn, how did you balance, what would you do differently

SD: Which programme did you do? Why?

ER: Leading Innovation and Change because I’m interested in – and work with – leadership, change and innovation.

SD: What is the single most important thing you learned during the programme?

ER: A ton of interesting facts, theories and models, but the most important learning was scientific, critical thinking and how to handle sources and references.

SD: How did you balance work and studies?

ER: I cut down on my work.

SD: Any particular challenges to being a woman and studying online, or do you think all students face the same ones?

ER: I don’t know about other students, but I can’t see any particular challenges.

Life post degree

What changed, if anything?

SD: What’s new in your life since graduating / starting your studies? Any visible impact already?

ER: I sold a strategy project for small businesses right after the Strategy module. This is now a yearly event, thank you MALIC! Before, I had a lot of superficial knowledge and a lot of practical experience. Now I find that I have a steady foundation with deeper knowledge that also ties into my experience and brings it all together. I get a lot of comments from customers about my solid knowledge, and they appreciate how I reference everything so that they know where the information comes from.

SD: Anything you are doing differently now because of the things you learned?

ER: I reference everything! I carefully separate information and opinion. I venture into new areas. I always did, but now with more confidence.

SD: Do you feel that getting a Master’s degree or doing other online programmes can reduce gender discrimination in the work place?

ER: Probably not in itself, maybe combined with other factors.

Advice for other women

Or other students, really.

SD: Imagine you could send a message back in time to your pre-degree self: what would it be?

ER: Take the writing of assignments (and the feedback) seriously, that’s where most of the learning happens. Use your new knowledge right away to make it stick.


If you have been thinking about getting your master’s degree, proving to yourself and others that you CAN do it, now would be a good time to take the plunge. Have a look at our list of programmes and see if we have anything that could help.

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, application process, and for information on discounts we might be offering at this time.

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

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

Questions, questions, questions!

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 on your time and finances, and it is smart to get information before hand, cross your T’s and dot your I’s, before making your decision. 

Through this series of blog posts, we asked some of our past and current students to share their thoughts and opinions, to give their feedback on how they handled 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 blindly follow what they are saying, 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!

Learn from those who came before you

Folarin is currently doing our M.Sc. programme in Procurement, Logistics and Supply Chain Management, that we offer through an exclusive partnership with the University of Salford, UK, and this is what he had to say.

An Introduction

Who you are, really?

I am Folarin, from Nigeria

Which Uni are you studying with?

The University of Salford’s (UK), M.Sc. programme in Procurement, Logistics and Supply Chain Management

Which programme did you choose and why?

MSc. Procurement, Logistics and Supply Chain Management. I have been a professional in the chosen career since 1996, when I obtained the Professional Certificate of the Nigerian Institute of Purchasing and Supply Management, now Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply Management of Nigeria.

The Study Plan

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?

I planned to be flexible, juggling work and study! The reality for me was planning, and studying between work hours. I cannot specifically count the number of hours I study per day – I study according to time-window of opportunity.

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

I work tight schedules and was always exhausted during the weekdays. So, I found weekends most suitable to study – Friday evening through Sunday.

How much time did you devote for each assignment?

An average of one hour per day.

Travelling and Communication

How did travelling impact your ability to study?

Travelling helps me to relate life events with studying.

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

I explore IT facilities and internet resources – Email and WhatsApp messages.

A typical day as a master’s student

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

Dividing my attention, schedule, and activities to perform as both a Procurement, Logistics and Supply Chain Management professional and as a student. Balancing work and study as a mature man with the responsibility to cater for a family of 6.

Any advice?

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

Identify your area of core competence and/or SWOT analysis of your personality. Evaluate your financial capacity in line with your regular income before enrolment for the online master’s programme.


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, application process, and for information on discounts we might be offering at this time.