I am Sten Aardoom, currently studying for my master’s in Civil Engineering and Management at the University of Twente. I follow the Transport and Logistics track in combination with some Water Engineering and Management courses.
Choosing between continuing studying or applying for a job
In the beginning of 2016, I was in the end phase of my study in Civil Engineering at the University of Applied Sciences (HBO) in Enschede, Saxion. Like many students are probably familiar with, I had to make a big decision in my life: choosing between continuing studying or applying for a job. I actually liked studying quite a lot. Especially now in the master’s, there are a lot of free elective courses. I visited some open days of universities to get information about how the whole pre-master and master’s structure is organised and later I decided I just wanted to give it a try. Beforehand, I definitely wasn’t sure if I was up for the task, because I already knew the pre-master was known for being quite difficult and especially a lot of work.
Differences between HBO and university
In my opinion there are a few important differences between studying at a university of applied sciences (HBO) and studying for a pre-master at a university. The two most important differences for me were the time you need to keep up with the pace of the courses and also the level of study. For most people Calculus is the most challenging part. For me however, I struggled the most with Academic Research Skills while this is considered to be the easiest subject strangely enough. Why did I struggle with this subject? I think it is because I am dyslexic and therefore I experience more difficulty in reading. For this subject, and also a lot of courses in the master’s, you are expected to read many papers. In my experience, this was hardly the case at my studies at the university of applied sciences. Another difference between the two levels of education is that you really have to do it for yourself.
Gain knowledge for the master
I started the premaster with studying about 50 hours every week. After a while I figured out how to study more efficiently, but till the end it stays your main activity every day. That is what I disliked about the pre-master. The workload stays high every week and you have to keep up with the schedule of each course, because otherwise it will be very difficult right before the exams. For me that was also the reason why I needed quite a lot of retake exams. This gave me some stress, but by studying hard I succeeded. Additionally, I found some courses very interesting. Calculus and Fluid Mechanics were courses I actually enjoyed to do. I also think, and that is of course what the pre-master is meant for as well, that you gain knowledge which is very useful for the master’s and probably even for the working life. As said, I successfully completed the pre-master and right now I am studying for my master’s.