Esther became overwhelmed during her study: “I just couldn’t do it anymore”

Jan van der Ploeg

The role of a student advisor is sometimes not immediately clear for many new students. Yet having support from your student advisor can play an essential role in your study progress. Esther Rip certainly had that experience during her Psychology bachelor’s degree. She reflects together with student advisor Yew Cho Teh on a difficult but instructive period. 

“Actually, I already had lots of problems at secondary school, and these resurfaced during my study. I had a fear of failure. I sometimes had blackouts during tests, and that also happened during my study programme examinations,” explained Esther. Her tutor put her in touch with her student advisor. 


Yew Cho became a tutor for first-year students while he was a psychology student, which proved to be the prelude for a job as a student advisor. Yew Cho talked enthusiastically about his work: “Students can have various reasons for contacting their student advisor. They often have questions relating to their study progress or personal circumstances.” Yew Cho gets a real a sense of satisfaction from guiding and advising students in this. “Being able to help Esther get where she is now – for me that’s what my job’s all about!”  

Test anxiety training 

For Esther, taking that step to see her student advisor had more consequences than she realised at the time. She worked with Yew Cho to develop a plan to address her fear of failure. How do you approach an examination period? What do you need to do to be well-prepared? “For me these were the first steps in the right direction,” explained Esther. “But my fear of failure was still a problem. I then took Yew Cho’s advice and followed a test anxiety training at EUR. We stayed in touch in the meantime. My results weren’t good enough in the 2nd year. I just couldn’t pass that academic year’s knowledge component, which meant that I had to resit the year. When I reflect on that now, it was a blessing in disguise, because there was more going on than just a fear of failure.” 

Eating disorder 

Esther had an eating disorder, which prevented her from concentrating properly on her study. She sought help and, for a while, tried to combine her treatment with the study programme. When that proved impossible, it was time to come clean to Yew Cho. Esther: “I just couldn’t do it anymore. I told Yew Cho everything. The way he listened calmly was so reassuring! When I’d finished my story he said: “Esther, your health comes first. Your studies come second.” That really helped me make the decision to stop studying temporarily and take time to sort myself out. “It’s great that EUR helps you find a solution at such a difficult time.” 

Opening up 

For Yew Cho too, Esther’s story is confirmation of the importance of good, professional guidance during your study. Both see many students getting overwhelmed at some point during their study programme. Esther’s advice: “Seek help from your student advisor and come clean. In the end, that’s your best option.” Yew Cho praised Esther’s openness: “I think what Esther did and is doing now in this interview is really impressive; telling someone you don’t know what’s going on in your personal life. That’s something I learn a lot from too. If you dare to show your vulnerability, you’ll come out stronger.” 

Do you need support during your study programme? Check out all the student counselling options at EUR.

More information

This interview previously appeared in Spark magazine. This magazine is for students, alumni and partners of ESSB and showcases the positive impact that the faculty's education and research have on society.

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