Wrong study choice.. now what?

22 November 2022

Oh no, there you are, sitting in a lecture room while the thought “what am I doing here?” pops up in your mind. Although every student is wondering this sometimes, it can also occur very often and make you feel unhappy. You probably don’t want to have this thought, because you made the decision to be here right? You wanted to study this. However, it is important to be honest with yourself. If you feel like the study programme you chose is not what you want to do, why would you stay? Of course the tuition fee and the opinion of people in your environment (parents, friends, fellow students) might play a role here, but eventually it’s about you. It’s your choice and your life. So, in case you feel like you made the wrong study choice, here are a few things that you can do.

First of all, don’t panic. You are certainly not the only one who made the wrong study choice. Thousands of other students experienced the same and they also found a new goal, so for you everything will also be fine in the end. Secondly, it’s smart to make an appointment with your study advisor in case you’re having doubts. Don’t worry about talking to this person, he or she is there to help you. Contacting a study advisor might seem like a big step, as time-consuming and as something you simply don’t want to do. But, it’s really worth it to have a talk with someone who has experience with cases like this. Although saying out loud that the study programme you’re following is not for you might feel like failing, it’s actually the opposite. It’s the first step of creating a happier life for yourself. 

The study advisor will tell you about the options you have, which could be things you never thought of yourself. For example, did you know that it is possible to follow courses from other programmes during your own studies? It could be that you are not too happy with your study programme, but that you also don’t know what else you would like to do. In that case you could try to follow courses from other studies, while you continue with your own. These courses could be extra, but sometimes it’s also possible to replace them with the courses from your own study programme. If so, that means that you can still graduate within the same time. If it’s not possible to replace courses, you have the choice to work on more courses at the same time and thus work a bit harder, or you can decide to extend your studies. Maybe that’s not even that bad, because then you can take things a bit slower and still enjoy extra courses while finishing your own studies. Following extra courses is something you would have to discuss with your study advisor and maybe also with the exam committee, but it might provide a whole new perspective.

If you don’t want to quit with your current studies, another option is to finish it and start with something new later. Maybe in the past years you’ve learned where your interest lies and that you want to continue studying. Starting with a second study programme is also a good option when you don’t want to start your working life yet. Beware that you shouldn’t finish the first one completely, because then you will have to pay a fortune for the second study programme. Often it is recommended to leave some points open. What is meant by this is that you don’t follow one course, don’t take the exam or complete the assignment for ECTS. Again it’s smart to discuss the details of this with your study advisor, because it would be a shame if you have to pay thousands of euros all of a sudden while there are ways to avoid this.

In case you really feel like your current study programme is not for you, it might be smart to switch. If you decide to do this before the first of February, you often can get your money back. Besides, you can also start with many study programmes in February, so then you don’t have to wait until September. Of course, this is only an option if you know what else you would like to do. If you haven’t figured that out yet, waiting until September might actually be a good idea. You can take a gap year if you decide to quit and use this time to work or travel, while thinking about your next study choice. In this case there’s plenty of time to go to as many open days and student-for-a-day days as possible and find out what study programme suits you best. 

It could also be that you do like your study direction, but that you’re having doubts about the level on which you are studying right now. In general studying at the university is way more theoretical, while studying at the university of applied sciences also entails more practical ways of learning. It’s good to think about what kind of learner you are and what you prefer. Maybe you have the opportunity to study at the university but you don’t like the approach there. Then the university of applied sciences might be a better option for you. A higher level of education doesn’t always mean a higher level of satisfaction, so think about what you want. It also works the other way around of course. If you’re currently studying at the university of applied sciences but you have high ambitions and/or the practical way of learning doesn’t suit you, it’s possible to switch to the university after you’ve obtained your degree or propaedeutic certificate.

So to answer the question “now what?” after you’ve realized that you may have made the wrong study choice: know that there are a lot of options, regardless of your situation. As mentioned before: it’s your life, so it is important to consider carefully what you want. Because in the end, it’s best for you to be happy with your study choice.