International Students

Theory on choosing

Here you find different theories on choosing.

Awareness on common obstructing convictions - in choosing a bachelor or master program

How do I know what I want? What bachelor- or master program fits me?
Choosing a bachelor or a master idealistically ends up in a good fit between your personal qualities (as a person), what interests you, what gives you energy and on one other hand and the content, form and level of the bachelor- or master program on the other. Keep it close to yourself; you do not need to find a ‘miracle-program’. Choose from what you know of yourself and what you want from and need in a program.

I am choosing for the rest of my life! This choice has to be very good (or perfect)
Paths in careers are often shifting; depending on your person, growth and change of interests.
You cannot foresee what you like doing the next 30, 40 years. So focus on who you are now and what might interest you in the coming 4 to 5 years. Analyze your daily interests and activities; what interests you, what do you like to do, what gives you energy, what activities come naturally to you, what makes you feel good? Focus on these items and match this with a bachelor-, master choice and a job perspective.

I worked hard at high school or in my bachelor, but I have to continue studying right away…?
Studying is not evident. What if you are in need of a break because you studied hard the past few years? Or because you experienced challenging personal situations? Or because you simply are not ready to choose a direction? A study-break can help. Travelling, working, learning a language or doing an (unpaid) internship or voluntary work; it can all help you to clarify your needs, role and direction in a future work environment and deducting from that, realizing how a bachelor or master can be supplementary to these wishes and to your current education. In case of a master choice: a master might even concern a completely different area than the bachelor.

Phases of choosing by Taborsky

Explaining phases in choosing

1 Consciousness. Awareness of and commitment to having to make a choice (not knowing what the choice will be). The realization of having to choose helps you to commit to the necessary actions. If you are not fully aware of having to make a decision, you can postpone a choice endlessly or even deny having to make the decision at all.

2 Acceptance of the restless and sometimes stressful feeling of ‘not knowing’ what the nearby of further future brings. Important in this phase: keep an open mind and take the time to explore, without knowing the definite goal. Accept the restlessness of not-knowing and the questions of external parties. This acceptance prevents you from making a quick choice and helps you to keep an open mind to the options you can explore.

3 Freely exploring alternatives in masters and trades, based on your own wishes, interests and qualities. Brainstorm freely; get rid of assumptions that are not verified. Explore all information and options freely; you do not have to make a decision yet! Talk to people, explore long forgotten dreams, so that the aspects and subjects that are important to you are included in your search.

4 Comparing options & enhancing options. What criteria do you find important? Select them and compare these with the remaining options; what seems most important? Or, the other way around, what options are appealing to you and which criteria can be found in these options. What matters most to you, apart from the emotional/gut intuition you have towards one (or more) options? Getting into the details of the remaining options helps you determine what you can expect; which contents do the subjects have? In this phase you narrow down.

5 Decide. The exact moment of decision-making is hard to define. A decision can be made unconsciously, which slowly grows and finally energizes you. Talking about it with others and actively engaging in the direction you are leaning to, helps you to get convinced and committed with the decision. This does not need to be a perfect decision, only one that reflects enough of your motives, interest and personal qualities, as well as your commitment to this choice.

6 Organise. Having decided, mostly energizes. Practical obstacles now can be taken care of. This phase is mostly one of intensity, drive and power from which you can practically organize your ideas. All that is needed to start your new program or master, can be taken care of; signing up, buying books, arranging accommodation.

Of course these phases in choosing are not absolute; you can switch from one to another and back if necessary. Choosing a bachelor- or a master program is a process; take your time and let the decision grow.

What matters in choosing a bachelor or master program?

1) Know yourself
Knowledge of yourself helps. Idealistically you make time to find out more about your: interests, qualities as a person, preferences in learning and working-culture, personality traits, career-and life goals, values important to you, motives for study and work. The more you specify these and can match them with the contents of a study or job, the more likely it is that this choice will suit you well enough to successfully finish the choice you made.

2) Know the opportunities   
Specific knowledge of the contents of your choice is important; is it what you expect it to be? Check your idea with reality and find out more in detail about the studies at university or higher education, arrange informative conversations with professionals about the job you (think you) strive for. If necessary: take a year off to travel, work and / or follow courses, so you can explore other aspects of yourself. Arranging a traineeship or an internship at a company to learn about positions, work-cultures, tasks and roles that fit you, etc. helps you find (a) suitable direction(s). What suits you at this moment?

3) Activate: What will you do? And when, how and where will you do this?
Making a plan helps translating the above items; to actually get things in motion. Some suggestions:

– Plan your agenda to spend time on bachelor- or master choice. Limit the time you spend on this choice, so that you still have time to relax. When you want to include others, plan ahead because of their possible demanding agenda’s.

– Assemble information; what do you need to know about a study? A university? A profession? Discuss this with roommates, friends, teachers, the study-advisor at the university or faculty where the study is offered. Visit the city and university, try to join a ‘meeloopdag’; an organized day of regular study to experience if the culture, people and contents of the study suit you.

– Check if your criteria (specific contents, location, career opportunities, teaching forms, etc) match the bachelor or master (or other goals) that you find important. Include both your intellect and intuition / feelings in that. Big decisions like this are mostly made unconsciously, where lots of experience and knowledge has been stored.

– Share your findings with others; what do they think? Fresh input can help you see things from a different perspective. Ultimately you make the final decision yourself, but advise and sharing information and opinions can inspire and support you in this process.

– Decide at some time. Do you keep stalling this moment? Then: 1) set a deadline and commit yourself to this choice; it will never be the perfect choice! Or 2) is now the time to chose? Or are you better off taking a year off? 3) or would working suit you better, always considering taking on a bachelor or master later on in time?

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