Study delay: experiences of our students
As a current or prospective student, receiving your hard-earned diploma within the stipulated study time could be a strong wish. Nonetheless, things sometimes do not go according to plan, resulting in study delays. While study delays can be daunting, the experiences of four WUR students re-echo that ‘there is light at the end of the tunnel’. In this blog, Jacob, Rik, Joan (real name known to only the editor), and Jurrian inspire with their study delay experiences.
Why we experienced Study Delays
Several factors account for study delays. Most notable within the past 2 years is the corona pandemic. These WUR students expressed how the pandemic cost them study delays:
Jacob, an International Student from Ghana: “For me, my study delay started when I began my thesis. So at that time, it was because COVID had just started. The restrictions affected my lab work because few people could use the lab simultaneously, and I could only go to the lab two days a week. This had a ripple effect on my internship. Also, it took me a month before landing an internship position.”
Rik, a Bachelor’s Biotechnology student: “In the 2nd half of the 2nd year, the pandemic started. I was delayed for a course when the exam was postponed. When it was due, I had a cold and had been to a high-risk part of the country, so I couldn’t write the exams. Additionally, I had a challenge with passing some difficult courses. If for not the delays, I would have been a master’s student now.”
Joan: “Corona led to my study delay… I had already finished my master’s thesis proposal during the summer holidays, but I could not travel for fieldwork. So, I had to rewrite my proposal on a whole different topic that was interesting and not just doing my thesis as a chore. It took me about 11 months to write my thesis.”
Jurrian, a Master Landscape Architecture and Spatial Planning student: “I experienced a year of delay after having to choose two courses but could go for only since they were scheduled in the same period. I had a year of study delay… if it were not so, I would have finished my master’s by now”.
Dealing with delay & unexpected opportunities.
Interestingly, these students had a unique way of dealing with the study delays. It’s not always a bad thing when you are a bit behind.
Jacob expressed: “As an International Student, I informed students, my metacognitive essay, the https://weblog.wur.eu/essay-on-impact-of-globalisation-on-indian-economy/ and my thesis supervisor. They helped me discover the right procedure to ask for an extension to compensate for the delays. Eventually, I had a 2 to 3 months extension from my scholarship.
Since I took my time to collect more data, it strengthened the validity and reliability of my findings. I built a large network through the extensive interviews I conducted. I got a job through my internship due to the interesting outcome of my research, which was only possible through spending longer time collecting and analysing data.”
Rik stated: “I saw the need to redo the whole course and not just the exam as I felt I did not have the necessary skills to advance even if I passed the exam. I consulted with my study adviser to help me plan the rest of my studies. It was important to find out from teachers where I did not do well to avoid potential resit in the next attempts. If you fail, you need to find the reason for failure.
The delays gave me more room for extracurricular activities. These look good on my resume. I have developed my communication skills and built my networks when I joined the student association in some committees. I am currently applying for a student assistant job to earn some income and teaching experiences.”
Joan says: “After admitting the delays, I decided to not get distracted by it. When I realised the inevitability of delay, I took some courses for period one whilst I was thinking about an alternative topic to write my thesis on, instead of just choosing a quick, easy fix that I probably would not have been too happy with spending six months of my life on.”
Jurrian: “I sought advice and made the most from the study delay. I discussed with my parents the option of delaying my study in the light of taking extra courses and working as a student assistant. I got the best advice that helped me be assertive on delaying my studies for a year.
It gave me the space to not go from course to course but to set new goals that helped me to explore other interesting projects I won’t otherwise be looking for. I also earned a publication through the period of working as a student assistant.”
Our advice on how to avoid study delays
Jacob: “I experienced longer delays during my internship, 8 months instead of the usual minimum of 4 months. I would advise international students to look for internships early. Please wrap your internship up in the 4th month if there is no opportunity to extend their studies. But if there is an extension possibility, take your time to do it well. Please, have a valid reason for your extension.”
Rik: “I will not advise you to combine thesis and a course because it is relatively restrictive and you can’t focus fully on your thesis. You risk having more study delays. If you get study delays, don’t worry! And for international students, don’t allow the pressure of your grant to become larger than the actual problem of having some delays… Remain focused and be realistic with time.”
Joan: “I will advise international students to start their thesis very early. In my case, I started in the summer holidays. This would help you finish before the stipulated time for the thesis and make room for any potential delays. Taking extra courses can be fun, but please do so if you have the funds.
Thankfully, the essay scholarship contests allows every student to take 100% discount MOOCs on edX at their own pace and earn credits. I would advise that you go for this option so that you don’t take courses within the WUR system, which might cost you some delays.”
Jurrian: “If you are being intentional about delaying courses, try to delay only courses that are given every period. Otherwise might cost you a lot of time to retake such a course, culminating in a longer study delay.”