This program challenges students in a different way from a typical university program, and I think it gives much more possibility to grow as an individual and achieve personal goals rather than just passing the tests to successfully graduate. ~ Anna Aksenova, class of 2022

Open days, Insight days and Student for a Days aim to give potential students an insight into the ATLAS programme and how things work here at University College Twente. But as with most things in life, once you are actually part of it, reality can differ from your expectations. This does not have to be positive or negative, it just is. In order to ensure our programme is right for you, it is important for you to know everything about it and for us to know what we need to do a better job at explaining. In light of this, who better to ask than the new first-year cohort who went from prospective students to living and studying at UCT since summer. Here are the topics our first years wanted to clarify: Community, self-directed learning, assessment and the challenge of an honours programme.

Community is one of the core values and plays a vital role in student life, often the extent to which this is the case is not evident after a short visit.

We’ve been together for only two months, but I already feel like a part of a big family. I think this is the most important thing you get here, and also something you don’t experience during an insight day. I’ve never seen so many people with different personalities, experiences, and goals in one place, being so united with each other. There are many other opportunities to socialise with other people in the uni, but I am personally very comfortable seeing the same 100 people every day ~ Anna Aksenova

Comparing ATLAS to a family is not an understatement. Whilst it might be perceived as limited sticking to people within the programme (which you in no way have to do, external integration is strongly encouraged). By the end of your three years, you will legitimately know 100 people or more enough to feel comfortable asking for help should you need it. This is quite different from other programmes where there are many more in the course, but students often stick to a smaller group within.

I was aware of the fact that ATLAS, being a small scale programme, is very community-oriented, but I didn't realise the magnitude of it. It doesn't matter in which year you are, being a student of ATLAS automatically makes you a member of the ATLAS family ~ Marloes Vaessen

The extent to which self-directed learning is imposed can also be a shock to some. It is one of the leading points made at open days and on our website, self-directed learning is key to ATLAS. Yet there can still be quite a difference between knowing this and experiencing it.

A big contrast between what I expected and what I got was definitely the level of independence that is placed on the student ~ Dan Bourdon

Aside from self-directedness, the general way students work in ATLAS is quite different with a key emphasis on feedback on assignments, lectures and how the programme runs.

Constructive feedback can really point out weak spots that require attention, so that you know specifically what you should improve, however, feedback can be articulated in a way that is vague or ambiguous ~ Marloes Vaessen
Something that you should be aware of when you're considering ATLAS, is that it really is different from all other study programmes. ATLAS is community-based and the way of working is different from the other programmes ~ Jarmo Schoenmaker

It is this way of working that is unique to ATLAS and requires adjustment, but also one of the main commonalities between students. Every student has a different academic profile, the courses they take vary and their directions afterwards differ, however, all students direct their own learning to accomplish this and learn how to do so in ATLAS. After graduating university you will have to guide the rest of your learning and career path, here it is seen as important to teach students the necessary skills to do this is a safe environment.

This way of learning is also part of what defines it as an Honours Programme

I did come to this program to challenge and improve myself, and I should say that it is actually what I am getting ~Anna Aksenova
ATLAS really pushes you to do more than the minimum ~Marloes Vaessen

ATLAS students are ambitious, hard-working and driven. Supported by the community we are encouraged to set our goals high and reach for them, because that is how we learn, that is how we grow. Hopefully, this article has given you insight into the key aspects of ATLAS, should you come to visit and open day or as a student for a day, please do not hesitate to ask students about these topics!

University College Twente offers a unique bachelor’s programme, Technology, Liberal, Arts and Sciences, to top students. Visit the University College Twente website for more information about the college and Technology, Liberal, Arts and Sciences website for more information about the bachelor program. Or visit us during the open day, a student-for-a-day or an insight-day.

Grace Wachter
Writer, Class of 2021
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