I’ve always been a science person. Originally I wanted to study Architecture, but a visit to an open day on the subject left me somewhat disappointed.
That’s why I made the switch to Civil Engineering. After obtaining my VWO pre-university diploma I started the Bachelor’s programme at Saxion (university of applied sciences, ‘HBO’ in Dutch). It was pretty easy going, so I soon decided to take a Master as a follow-up.
I had already made my choice for a Master's programme when I was in the second year at Saxion: Construction Management & Engineering. Next I had to determine at which university to do it – Delft or Enschede. I finally went with the University of Twente because I was told that their programme has more emphasis on management. Moreover, the atmosphere on the campus in Enschede really appealed to me. Plus, obviously, after four years of studying at Saxion, the city of Enschede had started to grow on me.
In order to be able to make the transition from HBO to research university level, I had to take a six month pre-Master at the UT. It was a tough programme, with many lectures and loads of homework every week. But I was determined to see it through. As it turned out, it was something I really needed to succeed in my Master’s programme. The pre-Master taught me the importance of getting started right away instead of merely waiting for the next test. A research university Master really requires dedication and focus. I don’t know if I could have made it without the pre-Master.
I am now in the second year of my Master's programme. The great thing is that we get a lot of freedom. There’s only a small number of required courses. Apart from those there is plenty of space to pursue your own interests. I also took courses from other Masters, simply because I wanted to know more about the subjects involved. Simply put, at the UT you can become the engineer you want yourself to be. In my case that is someone who has knowledge of technical processes but is also aware of the importance of communication within those processes. It is my belief that people often get stuck in technology, while the match with communication is what actually makes things work in the end. The UT is very willing to help you make such matches, but you should never hesitate to take the initiative and show where you want to go.
To students now following an education at HBO level and considering taking a Master's programme I would like to say: it is a good choice, provided you really want to go for it. I myself breezed through HBO quite easily, but if you are already struggling with the level there, the transfer to university will be taxing indeed. I won’t lie about my pre-Master, it was not a fun time, but it was absolutely necessary and useful. If you spend the first few weeks taking it easy, you’ll probably have missed the boat already. Also, do not take a pre-Master simply because you don’t know what else to do. Do it because you want to get a Master’s degree and make sure you have a clear vision of your final destination. That’s the best way to actually get there.