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Hi all!

I’m Merel, 21 years old and last year I followed the ESPHM Honours Class, which I will tell you more about. The Honours Class is an in-depth study program in the and designed for motivated students who have achieved good grades in the first year. It equals 15 ECTS and consists of various components, of which your own research is the largest part. During this research you will discuss with your peer group, coach and ‘kennismentor’. In November you will go on a self-organized working visit, we went to Philips. Besides that, you’ll arrange a guest lecture with another student. The Honours Class concludes with a symposium where everyone presents their research.

For me, the Honours Class started in the summer 2019, when I received a letter stating that I had been selected for the selection procedure based on my grade average. To secure a spot I had to apply through a letter or video. I chose to do a video, because I can express myself better on screen than on paper. A week later I heard that I had been selected.

I had two reasons for participating. Firstly, because I was looking for something I could invest time in, in addition to the regular program, because I experienced the first year as quite doable. Secondly, having done a ‘Honours Class’ looks good on your resume. It shows companies that you are able and motivated to do something extra.

The first few weeks are all about coming up with a topic for the research. My topic was: “the retention of blood donors in the Netherlands and increasing their donation frequency”. I am a blood donor myself and I had read a news item about a shortage of blood donors. This seemed like an interesting occasion for a research, so I contacted Sanquin, the Dutch blood bank. After a conversation with them I came up with this topic.

In terms of time, you spend an average of four hours a week on the Honours Class. It’s an average, so some weeks I worked zero hours, because I had deadlines for the regular program, but some weeks I worked ten hours. Some parts take more time than others. Especially the preparation for the guest lecture and the end products took more time than I expected.

In retrospect, I can say that I enjoyed working with a group of motivated students and I appreciate having a taste of the graduation project in the third year. During the Honours, especially when COVID-19 became an issue, but I persisted and I am glad that I did, because afterwards it was a very nice experience.