Study Delay – A Problem?
Currently, I am in my 4th semester in the Master Management Economics and Consumer studies (MME). If I were on schedule, I would be doing my internship right now. Yet, I am not! I have a study delay of one semester and just started with my thesis. Is this a problem? Find out, why I don’t think so.
Some background information
A study delay does not happen out of the blue. For me, the extra semester came due to an unlucky combination of various factors.
Since I did an interdisciplinary Bachelor and thus have a broad background, I needed some more courses in order to become an expert in my Business Economics specialisation. However, most courses are only offered once or maximum twice in an academic year. Besides, sometimes the courses you need to take or want to take require a perquisite course, which you need to schedule, too. Accordingly, it is sometimes difficult to juggle courses and periods (in case you don’t know yet how an academic year is organised, check the WUR Glossary).
In my case, some misunderstandings with my study advisor as well as difficulties to accommodate the Academic Consultancy Training (in short ACT, check out this article if you want to know more) in my schedule, came on top of the already complex situation.
Planning is indispensable
How to prevent a study delay?
So, my advice is, if you really need to finish on time, don’t settle back and trust others, but take matters in your own hands: Check with the chair group in which you want to write your thesis in, which courses you have to take as a prerequisite, schedule the courses and check whether there are courses required in advance. You should really do this before you get to work. Planning is indispensable in a just two-year Master programme with a tight schedule and numerous courses to take.
How to make the best out of the extra time?
Of course, you should try to avoid a study delay, amongst others for financial reasons, but sometimes this is not possible. If this is the case, don’t be frustrated. From the perspective of a life-time, half a year more or less in Uni does not change a thing. On the contrary, when used wisely, you can tilt the balance in your favour. Four examples how to do so:
First, of course, you could just take it easy, but then it might be just a waste of time. Instead, you should consider taking more courses. These could be even outside your specialisation, in your field of interest or making you an expert in a field. Therefore, again, planning is key! If you plan your curriculum in advance, you can accommodate these little excursions of interest.
Second, with only one course in a regular period, you can also take on a job as a student assistant in a department related to your studies, work in a company, café or bar. Whatever you do, it will be an experience. And besides growing in line with requirements, you also earn some extra money.
Third, with more time available, you could also expand your extracurricular activities: Join a volunteer organisation, one of the numerous study or student associations or participate in a committee. There is a lot to do in Wageningen.
And last, but not least, it’s all about personal development: Next to additional courses, a job or extracurricular activities, you should always use your time to travel and to pursue new or resume old hobbies.
How I dealt with the study delay
Personally, I was first quite mad and frustrated that I could not finish my Master studies in time. Yet, I saw quickly the opportunities that were opening up thanks to my study delay. I was a student assistant for two consecutive periods, which I not only enjoyed but in which I also learned a lot; I started to play the piano again and volunteer in Movie W; I was able to do a lot of sports, run the half-marathon in Amsterdam and participated in a two-months sports study; and I took a course on Life Cycle Assessment, in which I was always interested in, considering my background in sustainability. In the end I can confidently say, it way indeed not a waste of time.
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