Students, are they well-prepared for studies overseas

We were all told that the number of students going to study in the Netherlands has risen and that in principle that is a cause for celebration. But I called some of my friends in Colegio Arubano circles and they immediately rained on our parade. It was the consensus that the kids leaving their cushy-comfy island home are not prepared at all for the realities of living on their own and caring for their basic needs, besides the major academic requirements of a university degree.

The consensus was that island kids are spoiled. Pampered. They are sweet and street-stupid, or whatever the opposite of street-smart is. Besides their sub-par housekeeping competence and low grade coping skills, their Dutch is an abomination. That was a quote. They do not have proficient Dutch reading & writing expertise, to handle total immersion, basically studying in Dutch.

My sources say that many of the students will not be successful, and will return to Aruba disillusioned, and that it is not completely their fault, the fact that they are unprepared. The school suffered quite some turbulence and instability this year, and hopefully with the imminent nomination of the new headmaster, things will boil down to a comfortable simmer, and the pressure to produce will be on, on the students and on their teachers.

In regards to total immersion in Dutch, the Netherlands has over 90,000 international students enrolled in its universities and while it is a good source of income for the country, the Dutch educators decided to raise their own academic bar, and make it difficult across the board for international and Dutch speaking students. They now require all basic courses to be successfully completed in the first probationary university year. Can’t split the basics over two years anymore.

I understand that in view of a low ratio of study success our MinEdu has recently announced that a new program will be made available, a prep-year, a pre-university course, teaching students how to study and in general coaching them for the challenges ahead. Eighty students signed up. There was room for just forty, but then somehow water was added to the soup and the pot initially thought to feed forty, will have to handle eighty. As far as I know, the details have not been worked out yet. But it’s a welcome initiative, an extra year in the incubator, waiting for the chicks to hatch, at their own pace.

I went shopping yesterday, and the owner of the store in conversation offered: “We were the good generation; we couldn’t wait to get out of the house, leave our parents behind, fend for ourselves, be independent, study AND earn our own money, stand on our own feet. I was 18 when I left to Europe to study and I never looked back.  My son still lives home, and now that he has a baby, I don’t see him moving out any day soon, nor going to school.”

I didn’t know what to say, I guess our parents did a better job in preparing us for life. In any case, I always want to take the optimistic highroad, which assures me that things work out at the end.