A Blog by International Students at Leiden University
Some of you might be very familiar with this situation: You’re in the 3rd year of your Bachelor’s and everybody keeps asking you,
“So what are you going to do for your Master’s?”
While a lot of people are very attuned to what they want in life, there are a whole lot more people out there who are indecisive. I certainly belonged to that group. So what helped me find my way through the jungle of options?
1.FIND THE GOLDEN THREAD!
First we have to figure out what we even like, right? What helped me the most was looking back at the courses that I picked throughout my education. I am pretty sure there was a reason why you chose certain courses over others (easy credit points/fits into my schedule/friends took it/ – these obviously don’t count as reasons, so dig deeper!). Also, look at topics you were interested in when you had to write term papers/research proposals! A Master’s degree is a specialization (and expansion of knowledge and skills) for something you want to do later in life. In my case, I am a Psychologist and I wanted to specialize in the brain -> enter Brain & Cognitive Sciences at the UvA!
2. GET ORGANIZED!
One of the things that really helped me was to create an Excel sheet with all the important information that I needed (i.e. University, Program name, Application Deadline, Master’s Information Day date, To DO for application). I promise you, doing this will decrease so much anxiety in your head!
3. THINK AHEAD OF THE CURVE
While I’m personally a big advocate of following your dreams, I sometimes had to switch my idealist glasses with those of a sober realist. So try to research in which direction your field of interest is developing and growing? Perhaps you’re not even that interested anymore if it is going in direction X, Y, or Z? Fair enough – continue the search until you find something suitable. This point is probably the most difficult of all: Integrating your interests into a Master’s degree that is worthwhile in the long run. Your education is a financial commitment with a tremendous amount of sacrifices in the realms of time and energy. Make sure it’s worth it.
4. TALK TO PEOPLE
Please make use of the sources of knowledge around you. Your professors/lecturers/work group instructors/current Master students have ALL been there! At some point they had to make important decisions as well. So shoot an email and ask them for advice – most of the time they are very helpful! Also, ask friends of your siblings/parents/friends – every brain had to make a decision on “what’s gonna come next for me?” at some point 🙂
So to sum up: Find the golden thread, hold on to it, see where it came from and then tie a knot! Your intuition is the best Google Maps you can have, so pay a little attention to that as well 😉