First Semester as a Master’s Degree Student: Tips and Tricks

Being a Master’s Degree student can be as confusing and stressful as starting your Bachelor’s Degree. You are in a new university, with more work and higher stakes, and you need to be more independent. For international students, starting a Master’s Degree in the Netherlands can be nerve-racking. You have to learn an entirely new system: new grading, new email and new classes. While you try to figure this out, you need to settle in the new country with a new language.

Although it may seem daunting, here are some tips to survive the first semester of your Master’s Degree!

Keep track of your schedule

Classes and plans sometimes change, and you need to be careful to go to the right class or do the right reading. Although professors tend to create a schedule at the beginning of the year, these can change and you need to be on the lookout, since they won’t always email you or let you know. Being in your Masters means, being independent and looking up information for yourself: sometimes you might overlook certain things!

Talk to your course mates

Having a class group chat is always a good idea: whenever you have urgent questions or just want to vent a bit. Some classmates might have completed their Bachelor’s Degree at that university and they can help you understand the system better. Chances are, you will meet other lost international students and then you can figure it out together! Talking to each other can help you understand individual assignments, and you can always go for a beer if everything else fails!

Be proactive

If you are hesitant about something, just ask! Don’t wait for the professor to email you, you have to take your education into your own hands. It might be  uncomfortable to email professors multiple times a week, but they understand you only want to do your best. There are also office hours you can go to, so you can talk face to face with your lecturer and get any answer you might need.

Grades aren’t everything

A Master’s Degree can be difficult. The professors expect more from you and the new system requires some adjusting. So, don’t worry if you aren’t getting the good grades you are so used to. The first semester is used to adjust and learn what the professors want. It is normal to see a small dip in your grades. But don’t worry! You can look at the feedback given with your assignments to improve. Moreover,if you need more help, you can always talk to your professors and ask for advice. Nonetheless, the first semester’s grades might not be your best but don’t get demotivated and remember that it happens to everyone.

There are many things that you can do to have a great start to your Master’s Degree. Although assignments and classes might be daunting, by following these tips you are going to make it a lot easier for yourself.

Now that you know how to tackle your first semester, you are going to have a great first semester.