Student - 26 februari 2015

Blog: Tremendous study pressure

10

Last week, a friend of mine quit her studies at Wageningen University and went back to her home country. Reason: the study was too tough, she failed almost all subjects and couldn’t take the pressure anymore.

I don’t know how the Dutch students cope with studying in Wageningen, but for internationals it is very difficult. The courses are so tough, that sometimes it is difficult to go along with them. This seems to be typical for WUR. It is not very common to hear of students failing at other universities.

Often, this high study pressure results in people getting depressed. Last year, a student died in Bornsesteeg. The causes were unknown, but there were rumours that he had a depression, caused by the burden the studies had put on him. Maybe soothing words and cooperation from study supervisors and faculties, and encouraging talks from friends could have saved his life.

When talking with friends yesterday, who have all come from abroad to study in Wageningen, we came to the realisation that although we had all been here for a year and a half, we never had a single moment to sit back and chat about anything else than our studies. For the past year and half we have been rushing from one class to another, even during the summer break time.

It is true that we came here to study. But shouldn’t there also be time to make friends and enjoy good moments together? Yesterday I realised that ever since I came to Wageningen, there hasn’t even been one weekend that I could simply enjoy without thinking of my studies.

Studying in Wageningen might be hard, even too hard at times, but on the other hand, this has pushed the academics of WUR to be among the best in the world, as many rankings show.

Hats off to our pressure coping capabilities!

Re:acties 10

  • SK

    I think.. The study in Wageningen University is okay.. not too hard though i am an international student.. I always think that studying in my home country was harder n tougher..
    But in the other hand, studying in WUR also not easy.. Studying is not only about how high grades you get but also how you understand the courses specially with different languages which makes it tough.. Some students in here want to understand the courses, while most of them getting good grades was just enough.. So I think the students that fall into depression are most likely the ones who want to understand the courses but they dont have some help to go through it.. Putting in also every person has different way to approach the exams.. For example.. I prefer to understand the course well to take exam instead of just remembering whatever it takes to answer the exam then forget about it in days - which is commonly happen..
    Aside from that.. The friendship is necessary.. Lucky i am a kind of person that good for being alone.. But some people like to spend time with people to relieve the stress.. And the problem in here, majority of the students are very private, either they just dont care or they just too busy with their lives or they just dont want to open with international students. While home (family and old friends) is just so far away to reach. It made the depression even worse.
    I made a very close friend here from Latin America durig my study.. And i know how horrible her depression is.. And im glad that i could be there for her whenever she was having suicidal thought..
    Though i couldnt agree more about how hard to get help in here as my friend said that she hd to beg and cries outloud to get a psychiatrist appoinment in 4 months (or else 6months)..

    So i think its not about how hard the education is.. Or how stupid the student is..
    But its more likely the social conditions that supports mentality of every human being.

    So Happy New Year 2017
    Ps: i just heard that there's a recent suicide here

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  • Y

    The only thing I want to say is that the support on campus is not enough. I went to the school counsellor talking about suicide ideas and i'm assingned to GP and then a psychologist but nothing helps.
    And it's also very easy to have prescriped with anti-depression pills.

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  • Sam

    Thanks for writing. I'd like to comment with regard to the mental health issues and services. The mental health services as well as acknowledgement of mental health services is very weak and insufficient. When I was there I tried to put pressure on the university to make these services better. I hope something Is changed. I also encourage anyone still there to speak up about This issue and have their voices heard!

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  • Mark

    Totally agree on everything

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  • shazia

    I think the international students are the asset of wagningen university. its not the matter of earning money. Mostly are scholarship students they are selected after a tough competition. We are here only because of our education and research purpose. We learn a lot from each other. Each region of the has its own way of living which include the livelihood ,education system etc .For international students initially its a new world .They need time for understanding the system .But the time is very short. So it is appreciable that they compete with the local students on same standards. It does not mean that they dot have the sufficient level of enrolment. International students see all the universities before applying then select the best for admission. Because their future depends on this education.
    International students are like birds they will fly to other universities in search of education but it will be loss for wagningen university and researchers. No one can say that they are competent . We learn from each others. That's why wagningen students go for different regions of the world only they want to explore the world. think of this. Its not the matter of money.I was selected for uk university but I prefer wagningen only because this university has good repute of research and supporting courses for my current work.
    It is meaningless that we are here for earning of money.
    its not the easy task to live away from your family for a long time.I appreciate the writer for high lightening the issues of international students.

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  • Realist.

    University and scientific eduction is not for everyone and people should realise that. Some people are not made for it and should choose a path of education that is one (or more) levels lower.

    It is for instance, better to be a student in the university of applied science (DUTCH: HBO) scoring 8s than being the same student scoring 5.5s at the University.

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  • surprised

    I am surprised to read this story. Many Dutch students think their study programme in Wageningen is too easy. They take double classes to get more challenge or follow two master studies simultanously. Next to this many dutch students have jobs in the weekends or in the evenings or are very active in their student life or sports. I dont know where this difference between international and dutch students comes from.

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  • Sophie

    Although I find it terribly sad that some people can't handle the study stress to the point where they suffer from depression or commit suicide, it really does not have to come that far. In my experience, WUR has excellent services for students who are having troubles with their study. You should try to contact the Student Counsellor or Student Psychologists. They are there to help you, not just with study-related topics but also 'life in general'-stuff.
    Maybe they should do an awareness campaign, because apparently not everyone knows that they exist and it is completely free(!) to contact them for help.

    @no name, I wonder who you tried to contact when you say "when you ask for help they will tell you that you just have to know and if you don't than you shouldn't be there". Did you contact your study advisor or a counsellor? I agree that these statements are not very helpful, but I doubt whether professionals like the counsellors would say that. Study advisors also shouldn't react like that. That's just not okay. If anyone else encounters things like this: you don't have to leave it at that. Ask someone else for help instead of that unhelpful person. You'll find help, if you ask for it.

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    • Yesname

      sophi, I agree with what "noname" has mentioned. In some lectures, some tutors say that u are suppose to know those things. I was once in the lecture and the teacher told that if u don't know these things, just drop the course. Instead the better way would have been to give us some references to read. So, I understant the burnout mentioned by noname.

    • Sophie

      @Yesname,

      some courses have prerequisite knowlegde. Thus, the teacher assumes you know certain things before starting the course. If there are some people who do not possess the prerequisite knowlegde, it holds the entire class back if the teacher has to explain these 'basic' things. I understand that it might seem harsh to say that you should drop the course if it is too difficult, but really that might be the most ideal thing for all parties: the rest of the class gets to learn new things instead of repeating stuff from previous courses, and the student can first take a more basic course or get their knowledge up to standard by self-study. This also eliminates the stress of taking a course that you deem 'too difficult', because taking courses that you don't understand at all only eats away your self confidence. If the student thinks they can simultateously get their basic knowledge up to scratch AND take the course, then I think the teacher can indeed provide some tips on how to do that.

    • Sophie

      @Yesname,

      some courses have prerequisite knowlegde. Thus, the teacher assumes you know certain things before starting the course. If there are some people who do not possess the prerequisite knowlegde, it holds the entire class back if the teacher has to explain these 'basic' things. I understand that it might seem harsh to say that you should drop the course if it is too difficult, but really that might be the most ideal thing for all parties: the rest of the class gets to learn new things instead of repeating stuff from previous courses, and the student can first take a more basic course or get their knowledge up to standard by self-study. This also eliminates the stress of taking a course that you deem 'too difficult', because taking courses that you don't understand at all only eats away your self confidence. If the student thinks they can simultateously get their basic knowledge up to scratch AND take the course, then I think the teacher can indeed provide some tips on how to do that.

    • Sophie

      Oops, sorry, I posted twice.

      @redactie, can you remove one? thanks :)

  • Broer Konijn

    So what is your point exactly? You and some others are having a hard time with the stuff you have to learn, so that means it is too hard and the WUR should change it, meanwhile you agree that this level has put the WUR on the top of the rankings, so you encourage it.

    Their is a certain threshold the WUR wants to maintain, so if you cant cope with the pressure, maybe its level is just to high?

    That is Always I funny difference between students I think. Some can keep up due to their intelligence, others dure perseverance and alot of studying. If you lack both, then I believe studying at an University, especially the WUR, isnt a thing for you.

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  • Helmu

    I agree with you regarding that study at Wageningen is tough. I am under Erasmus program and am currently out of Netherlands. Some of my friends also quit the course and everybody was complaining that the exams were tough.

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Reacties 9

  • Frederike

    That is a rude comment Henk de Vries. Everybody handles stress in a different way. This has nothing to do with intelligence.
    A to high stress level for a longer period even stops the brain from functioning optimally. So it would be nice if wur had some guidence with this.

    • Anne

      The WUR does have guidance with this. You can visit psychologists from the uni for free. Also, your study advisor is there to help you...

      It's true that we have to work hard, but it is unfair to say that there is no-one to help you when you struggle with it.

  • Vander

    Hey people, keep calm. Some of these commentators are got really angry under the pressure WUR put on them =)

    The point of Mary is quite obvious for me. I experienced the same here. I dont like the image study advisors create about the Study at WUR. It is tough but it doesnt mean to 'label' it!!! Toughness should be presented in proper, nice way. Another side of this problem is unwillingness of locals-Dutchs to communicate, to make a freinship with foreigners. Foreigners just come to WUR, meet similarly shocked foreigners, isolate in their circle. It is not only about the difficuties of studies, it is also about socializing and adaptation of foreign student in WUR. Mary is talking exactly about that - social isolation of foreighners and fear of study presented by study advisors, staff etc. causes such a depressional image of our alma-mater...

  • Perez

    It is tough, but I don't know what you study... We have a lot of practicals in the food programme but we still find lots of time for parties and having fun. yes we have to work hard, but it is not impossible. But the beginning was very hard indeed, to get used to the system...

  • no name

    I also experienced a lot of pressure while studying at wur. When I finished I had a burnout of which I am still recovering and I am Dutch. So it is not just hard for foreigners. I totally lost my dream of becoming a scientific researcher at wur which is a pity. Friends of me who studied at other univertities did not experience this kind of stresslevel.
    The worst part is when you ask for help they will tell you that you just have to know and if you don't than you shouldn't be there. So way to go for killing peoples dreams wur.

  • Henk de Vries

    If the study pressure is too high, you are too stupid for the WUR.

    • your mother

      Ahahaha that's hilarious!! Your comment is so rude, inappropriate and embarassing that no one even 'reacted' on it!!

  • Afshana

    At some point, I agree that education system at Wageningen is tough. But the education system in Wageningen University is more interactive. Though there is a chance of failure, there is a chance for re-exam. Because of the education systems and standard, Wageningen is one of the famous research universities in the world. I believe, the coursework is a training period prior the thesis. So, the training period is always harder in everywhere. If you cope up, then you are the survivor. If you cannot, then just drop it without any hesitation. But, it does not fit for all.

  • Captain Smiles

    I do not understand the responses by some people. Commenting on something we feel is not working well, or being critical about it, is the first steps into improving it.
    Nevertheless, I feel I need to disagree with the blogger.
    Is the educational system tough here? YES
    Do we have to spend a lot of hours both in university and for self study? YES
    Is this what made the university to be top of its field? YES
    Why change then?
    The hard truth is this: the university has chosen an x educational system, and it is working. If people cannot perform, they are free to quit. It is pity, but not everybody is cut out to compete on certain leagues. Tomorrow when we are on the search for jobs, nobody is going to pamper us. Everybody is free to make their own choice.

    • Captain laughs

      I disagree with some of your points..
      Is the educational system tough here? No.. it has been made complicated
      Is the comlicated education system made the university top? No

      What are the parameters to say that the x educational system is working? Does the ranks matter? I think what matters is the happiness of graduates and overall satisfaction. What about the burnouts and depression students are feeling?

  • Bv

    I have the same thoughts on this, I totally agree with you.

  • SFS

    From my experience it seems more that the educational background and study skills of many international students are just very weak. When supervising MSc level practicals, it is holding the more advanced students back, because these students are taking up so much time and attention.

    I think it is more a matter of money: the WUR allows many students to come here to study (even if their level is insufficient), just for the money.

    In the end this is bad for everyone, als will make the diplomas worth less.

    • FSS

      I think that complaining about the educational standard of the students who are already enrolled is no good. rather it was to be thought before enrolling. And just to mention: education background and study skills of many international students are very strong as well.


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