10 January 2018 | Category: Study choice

A popular trick when choosing a degree is to use the process of elimination

By Hermien Miltenburg

There are two types of students who find it hard to choose what to study; those who aren’t interested in anything, and those who are interested in a lot of different things. And it’s this group that I’ll be focussing on in this blog post. My tip for these student is: a popular trick when choosing a degree is to use the process of elimination to narrow down the list of subjects you’re interested in.

students at campus 

Broad interests, many talents

Does this student sound familiar?

I like a lot of subjects at school, and I actually get good marks in all of them. Whenever I go on Open Days I quite like most of the degree programmes I check out. But, in the end, I can only choose one…

A luxury problem? Well, not really. Even these students find it difficult to choose the right degree.

A popular trick when choosing a degree is to use the process of elimination

Degree programmes offered by universities and universities of applied science are split into subject areas. You can check these out on a website dedicated to helping school leavers decide which degree programme to study, such as www.studyinholland.nl. Click on ‘Find study programmes’ and then ‘field of study’. Here you will see more than 10 subject areas, such as education, art and culture, technology, health, etc. Ask your son or daughter to eliminate a few. Which aren’t really that interesting? Your son or daughter can then focus on the subjects that are left over… which is still quite a task!

Browse subjects that seem interesting

Once the student has selected a few subjects they can start to browse through them and do a bit of research. If they really want do something with ‘health’, for example, you can focus on the health-related degree programmes – of which there are 135 offered by universities and universities of applied sciences. Which is still quite a lot… But, you will have made quite a dent in the list and there will be a much smaller pool of degree programmes to choose from. You have already made a selection; some subjects have already been crossed off the list. A popular trick when choosing a degree is to use the process of elimination, which can really help some students!

But if I choose one, I can’t do the other…

But choosing one subject automatically means that you can’t do another one. And a lot of students find that quite scary. They have to forgo something that they also find interesting.
Is a more multidisciplinary programme perhaps a good choice for this student? Some universities offer those programmes. You can find them on the sites of the universities e.g. the bachelor’s programme Soil, Water, Atmosphere. 

Why choose a multidisciplinary programme?

In the world of education, we are increasingly seeing that it’s actually not such a good idea for students to study just one subject. The world is changing very quickly. The highly-educated of the future will come up with solutions and insights that are unimaginable today. On the one hand, we want highly-skilled specialists. But on the other, we need versatile professionals who can also switch between subjects.

Electives and minors

During Bachelor’s programmes there are more and more possibilities for students to take electives. Electives aren’t usually available in the first year, but in the second and third year (or even fourth year) students have more of a chance to design their own degree programme.
The second or third year of the Bachelor’s degree always comprises a minor; a kind of subsidiary subject in a completely different field. This is usually worth 30 credits, which translates to half an academic year.
Do students really have to eliminate a subject that they find really interesting? Later on in the programme they may have the option of taking some modules in that subject. Is it possible to combine two subjects? This is a great question to ask on an Open Day!

Tailor-made Bachelor’s degree

At some universities and universities of applied sciences, it’s even possible to put together your own tailor-made Bachelor’s degree. In such cases, you design your own Bachelor’s programme in collaboration with the study adviser. The student can then combine multiple subjects. University Colleges also accept students who want to have a very broad education.

Bachelor’s – Master’s system

The Bachelor’s – Master’s system usually works for students who have broad interests. Once you have completed your Bachelor’s degree, you can move on to the Master’s phase. You can even do your Master’s in a different subject – either at the same university or a completely different one. You can even choose to study abroad. A popular trick when choosing a degree is to use the process of elimination, but even if you eliminate a particular subject there’s still a chance that you’ll come across it at a later stage.

A popular trick when choosing a degree is to use the process of elimination


Finally, we are increasingly seeing that graduates are going on to work in fields other than the one they studied. They often start off working in a sector related to their degree, but after a while they might take further courses or do another degree, or progress through their careers in a different direction. And did the student eliminate a subject? Then they still might encounter it at a later stage of their career. Less than half of the people employed still actually work in a field related to their degree.

Decision-making continues to be an important skill

Decision-making plays an important role both at university and in the world of work; it is a skill that you will use throughout the rest of your life. A popular trick when choosing a degree is to use the process of elimination and young adults discover that it works for them, which means they will use this trick more often in other situations, too.



By Hermien Miltenburg

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