How can I help my child choose an education program?

Parents are an important influence when it comes to their children’s decisions regarding higher education. For most children, their parents’ preferences play an important role in their decision making process, although they might not be aware of it. Most children also discuss their thoughts on higher education with their parents. For parents it can be difficult to get an overview of all the possibilities. There is a greater variety in programs now than when parents themselves were choosing an education program. So how can you help your child choose a suitable program?

At home
Discussing their options regarding higher education helps children get a clearer idea of what they are looking for. As a parent, you can stimulate their decision making process by asking questions. To discover your child’s interests you can ask questions like “What subjects or topics did you like best at school?”. You can then ask further questions to clarify. For instance, when your child likes biology best, you can find out whether that’s because of the topics, the teacher, or the practical experiments. By asking these questions you are helping your child discover what he or she finds interesting and important. Another approach is to help your child discover their competences. Do you think your child is a diligent worker? Would you say your child is accurate? Does your child have an investigative nature? You may have an opinion on this, as you probably know your child quite well. And what does your child think of his or her competences? A good way to start a conversation is by asking “What competences are important in this education program?” “Do you think this suits you?” This way you can stimulate your child in choosing a program that is realistic and feasible.

There is a lot of information about education programs to be found online. There are websites, similar to this one, that offer information about several programs at several universities. The websites of universities also offer a lot of information about requirements, admission procedures, the way the programs are set up and guidance. When your child has selected a (few) program(s), it is advisable for you as a parent to read the information about admission procedures. This way you can prevent your child from missing important deadlines. The set-up of the program and the guidance of students are important as well. Is the program built around real-life cases, or is it mainly theoretical? Is there a lot of personal guidance or only guidance in groups? As a parent, you can most likely advise your child on what could be suitable for him or her.

Go see for yourself!
When choosing an education program it is most vital to visit the university of your choice, at least once. It is important to experience the atmosphere, to be able to assess whether you will feel comfortable. What kind of people do you see? What do the students say? What does the building look like? Most ‘open days’ (open dagen) are open to parents as well. ‘Study days’ usually are not open to parents. Some universities offer separate programs for parents during the ‘open days’. If this is not the case, remember it is your child’s choice to make. Don’t be the parent asking all the questions. Have your child engage in conversation with a student and for yourself, find a teacher to talk to. This is a good opportunity to ask about jobs, admission procedures, guidance and intensity of the program. When you get home, you and your child can exchange information.
Is your child visiting a university on his or her own? Try to discuss beforehand what he or she wants to find out. Afterwards, you can discuss whether all questions were answered. Talking about their experiences helps children process these experiences and further shaping the decision making process. Hence, it is very important to discuss the visit. After asking: “so, how did it go?” you might not get much more of an answer than “it was fine”. Other questions you could ask include “what kind of people were there?” or “what did you like best/least?” or “what did you think of the facilities?”

Last: don’t hesitate in asking for information yourself. Most websites have an option to send questions directly. If you have any general questions about the programs within Applied Sciences, you can fill out the contact form on this website.