How does it feel to take on an extra challenge at the Radboud Honours Academy in addition to your studies? Students Jasmijn (History Masters's programme), Constantijn (Medicine Bachelor's programme) and Veerle (Psychology Bachelor's programme) talk about their experiences.
Why did you choose to take an honours programme?
Jasmijn: “It was the interdisciplinary group that primarily appealed to me. In my Building Bridges Honours Programme I got to work with a group of students from different study programmes. It was great fun meeting so many new people and it was really interesting to see how everybody drew on their own discipline and made a contribution when it came to tackling issues. That’s really what makes the programme an extra challenge in addition to your studies.”
Constantijn adds: “I also really enjoyed the extra academic challenge. My Medical Sciences Honours Programme focused heavily on research, which is important within the academic community. I was keen to continue developing my talents abroad, and the honours programme subsequently provided me with a golden opportunity to do just that.”
Veerle: “I felt that the direct link to practical experience was missing within my Psychology Bachelor's programme; it felt like there was a predominant focus on research and theory. The Healthcare Psychology Honours Programme gave me the opportunity to learn about professional practice early on in my studies.”
What does an honours programme like yours entail?
Constantijn: “I’ve just finished the first year of the Medical Sciences Honours Programme. During this time, I was allowed to take a look in a number of different hospital departments, such as the Oncology Department and the Cardiovascular Disease Department. I was able to take a look around the department and learn about what kind of research is being done and I also got to meet researchers and doctors. The next step will involve carrying out my own research. During my internship, I’ll be looking at subarachnoid haemorrhage (bleeding between the meninges). Next year, I’ll be continuing this research in New York.”
Veerle: “I’m also taking a two-year programme. During my first year, I completed two three-month internships, which involved a lot of practical observation. I also had lessons in subjects that are not covered in the regular lectures in my study programme. In my second year, I combined my thesis and the honours programme and carried out research at HSK, which is a mental healthcare organisation. Because I was able to carry out my research on functional neurological disorders within this organisation, I gained a lot of practical experience.”
Jasmijn: “My programme has a slightly different set-up: it’s an interdisciplinary one year-programme. I collaborated with a group of students from different studies and worked on two interdisciplinary issues. As part of the ‘think tank’ that was held in the second semester, we developed an idea that had been commissioned by the Valkhof Museum, which centred on increasing student involvement at the museum. This meant that we got to collaborate with a very diverse group of people and work on a recommendation that was actually implemented in practice.”
What was a highlight for each of you?
Veerle: “During my research internship, I read about a conference that was being held in Boston that focused on the topic on which I was working. I brought the matter up with my supervisors, and I worked with them to submit a presentation proposal on my research. Our proposal was approved and after working really hard to finalise everything, we were allowed to present the research in Boston. That was a real highlight for me.”
Constantijn: “I thought it was great that I was able to propose my own project to work on. I’ve found that there are a lot of possibilities if you dare to act assertively from time to time. The fact that I’m being allowed to conduct my research in New York next year is such a unique opportunity.”
Jasmijn: “I’ve also learnt that it occasionally pays off to show a bit of optimism or to be assertive at the very least. Like they say: nothing ventured, nothing gained. Another one of my highlights was being able to work in an interdisciplinary group: in that sort of situation, you realise that everyone has a different view on a subject, but it still helps to see things from every perspective. That’s how you arrive at new insights together.”
Do you have any advice for students who are considering the option of an honours programme?
Jasmijn: “An honours programme is obviously an investment of time, but you do get a lot in return. You’re given a lot of personal guidance and you subsequently learn a great deal. Not only about the subject, but also about yourself. As a result, I now also have a better idea of what I want to do.”
Veerle: “When I started studying, the one thing that I definitely didn’t want to do was carry out research; in fact, I was looking for a study programme that wouldn’t involve any research at all. If you’d told me three years ago that I’d be enjoying it as much as I am now, I would have said that you were mad. Prospective students may entertain exactly the same thoughts, but they may be taken by surprise when they see how things work out. Within the different honours programmes, there are many different directions that you can take and this will automatically help you to find out what you like and dislike.”
Constantijn: “I have to agree with the others: I would definitely recommend an honours programme, because it will teach you a lot about yourself and about your strengths and where they lie. You’ll feel a lot more prepared for your future and you’ll get to meet plenty of people who work in your field of study. The conversations that you’ll be able to have with them early on in your studies could really make a difference.”