Student - August 3, 2018

Comic book to help choose a study programme

Text:
Tessa Louwerens

What do I want to study? This is a choice that many young people would like to discuss with their parents. But it can be difficult, especially when the parents did not study themselves. Parent information officer Hermien Miltenburg created a Study Choice Comic Book that could help.

© Hermien Miltenburg

In her position, Miltenburg often visits secondary schools, and she noticed that study choice is a difficult topic, especially for parents with a lower level of education. ‘Parents really want to help, but they often think they cannot contribute because they know nothing about studying.’ But according to Miltenburg, that is undeserved, as every parent could help their child to make that choice. ‘I found it a difficult subject as well. My children studied biotechnology and robotics, and those are subject I know absolutely nothing about. But as a parent, you are the one who knows your child best, which is why you can help them.’ She thinks that discussing the topic of study choice at home is very important. ‘Your child eventually will make their own choice and hold responsibility for it, but their parents’ support and involvement are invaluable.’

Parents who did not study sometimes find it difficult to discuss study choice.
Hermien Miltenburg, Parent information officer

Accessible
To help both parents and children, Miltenburg created a Studiekeuze Stripboek (‘Study Choice Comic Book’), which helps make the complex information pertaining study choice more accessible. The book contains images of every step in the study choice process, such as choosing an area of interest, prospective student’ days and comparing programmes and institutes. Each step is accompanied by five tips. Miltenburg: ‘As we wanted to keep it simple, it can sometimes be a bit blunt, but we included references to articles that elaborate on the subject for each image.’ The Study Choice Comic Book is published by Wageningen University, but it was designed for all prospective students facing the study choice at a Dutch university or university of applied sciences. Miltenburg: ‘Many comics can also be used when a youth intends to attend an MBO school (senior secondary vocational education and training). However, as I have no experience with that myself, it has not been written specifically to that end.’

I found it a difficult subject as well. My children studied biotechnology and robotics, and those are subject I know absolutely nothing about. But as a parent, you are the one who knows your child best, which is why you can help them.
Hermien Miltenburg, Parent information officer

Differences in level of education increase
Miltenburg hopes that the comic book will help young people and their parents to discuss study choices. ‘The difference between “higher” and “lower” educated people in the Netherlands is increasing’, Miltenburg says. Children of parents who have studied increasingly often attend a university or university of applied sciences themselves, whereas children of ‘lower’ educated people do so much less often. Miltenburg: ‘It’s a shame, because everyone who wants to study should get that opportunity to do so.’

‘Parents who did not study sometimes find it difficult to discuss study choice’, Miltenburg says. Especially when parents immigrated to the Netherlands. But these students with a migrant background are the ones who need the extra help the most. Miltenburg: ‘These students drop out much more often in their first year. Afterwards, one in two dropouts says they did not thoroughly think through what they wanted to study. And that is a shame, because these youths also have abilities and talents which could be utilised if they were to find a programme that suits them.’

Free to use
Miltenburg hopes the comic book will be shared widely. ‘It is free of charge and free to use by everyone. Schools could put it on their website, or hand it out during parent-teacher meetings.’ If this book turns out to be successful, Miltenburg would like to create a second book – one about studying. ‘It would include topics such as obtaining ECTS, a part-time job besides studying, binding study advice and how to call in the help of a dean. I will retire two years from now, and that would make for a great conclusion.’

The comic book can be downloaded here. Miltenburg’s blog (in Dutch) contains additional information.


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