Highschool or college: how to decide on?

A contribution by Soline Schreuer, member of Etincelle, a neo-Louvanist journalism-focused kot-à project of which La Libre Etudiant is a partner.

At the end of high school comes the time to decide where we are going in the future. Work, university, high school, conservatory, qualifying training, volunteer work or a year abroad, there are many options and it can be difficult to know what suits us best. That’s why we met four students to collect their testimonials about the advantages of university and high school.

Alexandra completed a Bachelor in International Cooperation in Co-Diploma at HELMo Sainte-Marie de Liège and Haute École de la Province de Liège (HEPL). After graduating from high school, she began studying for a master’s degree in population and development sciences at the University of Liège. She explains: “Gymnasium is a good way to go from secondary school to higher education because you don’t get dropped suddenly. We never really have a day off and schedules are longer, but when we go home there’s pretty much nothing left to do other than some review and homework.

The prestige of the university master’s degree

The young student does not like the completely different university system. “Classes end earlier at university, but there is still a lot to do at home. Having a master’s degree is appreciated, but the university system isn’t made for me, there’s less follow-up and I don’t like the way the courses are delivered. »

Alexandra has fond memories of her years in high school and the beautiful group of friends she made. “We were like sixty at the beginning and by the end we had 30-40 students so we lost a few along the way. The hardest working in the class are the ones who stayed. We all knew each other and there was a good atmosphere of mutual support between the students. »

For his part, Nicolas is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in computer science at EPHEC, a neo-Louvan high school. “I was looking for something that would advance me in life and that would interest me. After graduating from high school, it seemed normal to me not to stop at the CESS diploma and go to high school or university. Nicolas requires regular supervision and prefers the college system. “It’s cool to have teachers who force me to do my job and then in high school there’s a lot more concrete hands-on work, we learn all year round and we can’t report everything to the blockade. »

Even if he has decided to study at EPHEC, the student also sees advantages in the university: “The site is more prestigious, it is valued more by employers. Academics are also going deeper into the material as we have a synopsis in three years. »

Having reached the end of his studies, Nicolas is now planning to start his master’s degree. “I wanted to settle for three years of Bachelors because it professionalizes, but talking to other academics I realized that additional knowledge would only cost me two more years and that I would gain back the same number of years as the academics. »

More high school practice

Céleste left Rhéto and wanted to become a primary school teacher. So of course she went to a university that offered an education that suited her. “In a high school, there is a privileged relationship between students and professors. Lessons are in smaller groups, there are more pedagogical aspects and we have a lot more roots in the industry. Also, work is diluted during the year, we have work all year round and not just during exams. »

After graduating, however, she resumed training in psychology – this time at university. “I worked a lot more hours in high school, I had long days from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., with a lot of work alongside internships, which requires a lot of work and preparation. At university you don’t even have to go to lectures, it has nothing to do with the workload. It’s a different approach and perspective. Although she spent more hours in class in high school, Céleste believes the amount of material to be memorized is more important in college.

The young student believes that college education better equips students to pursue a career. This position is shared by Henry, who is pursuing a Masters in Literature from UC Louvain. “One of the advantages of the university is the depth of knowledge. The disadvantage is that we are less trained in the concrete application of what we have learned. You can do an internship or two, but in the world of work there are many things you need to learn on the job that you don’t learn at university. »

Henry seems passionate about his studies and content, having chosen to pursue theory rather than hands-on learning. “It was always logical for me to aim for a university education. It was an unspoken choice with my family, although I was never forced to. Also, I didn’t really hesitate because I knew what I wanted to do and my choice was validated over time. »

High School or University?

Ultimately, before deciding on a high school or university, you have to ask yourself which profile suits you best. It obviously depends on the work you want to do, but also on whether you need to get to the bottom of things and have more autonomy or prefer to be quicker on the concrete and have regular follow-up.

To see the differences clearly, don’t hesitate to interview students who have done one or the other, take open courses, or consult a guidance counselor. Knowing what to do after high school might seem like one of the most important decisions of our lives, but it’s important to put things into perspective, because when we’re wrong about what suits us best, it’s always possible that we will to reorient.

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