Student information

Life changing insight on top of the Grand Canyon 

André Rozendaal studied tax law and had a successful career as a tax specialist. One day, during a business trip to the USA, he stood on top of the Grand Canyon. The magnificent view struck him with the thought he was free to do whatever he wanted. His job felt like a cage. A luxurious and well-paid cage, that must be said, but it didn’t match at all with what really drives him. So, he flew home a few days later and quit his job to start a study in psychology.

Foto Andre Visitekaartje.jpg

“I  really disliked my tax law studies, but I persevered. ‘Maybe practice isn’t as bad as the theory’, I thought. Well, it proved to be even worse. I struggled with myself daily, but at first, I didn’t want to think about the consequences. After all the job paid very well and I convinced myself by saying “it’s better to be unhappy driving a Rolls Royce than a Citroen Deux Chevaux". When I quit my job, my friends thought I was crazy, going back to Uni at 27 years old, but I haven’t regretted it for one day!” 

Working with young people is a wonderful challenge  

“I started working as a student psychologist at Eindhoven University of Technology. When I progressed to a manager’s position, I missed  talking with students . Working with University students is a wonderful challenge. The more intelligent people are, the more they approach their problems cognitively. Feelings get pushed aside, rationality rules. At WUR, I developed the study skills programme that is still running today. Now I am self- employed and regularly give the Stress Management training to WUR students.  

“Students have suffered from stress for decades, but it only seems to get worse. Society puts a huge pressure on people. We are taught from an early age to compare ourselves with others. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with ambition, if it is fuelled by intrinsic motivation. Once your identity starts to depend on it – you are what you achieve –it takes away your pleasure and that stresses you out.”  

Do you focus on being, or becoming?  

“Stress is the result of what is going on inside you. It isn’t (primarily) caused by circumstances *, but by the way we handle those circumstances. The Stress Management training focusses on self-analysing your thought patterns, your self-image, how do you compare yourself to others. Do you focus on ‘being’, or ‘becoming’ someone? A constant focus on the future (becoming) when things will be better, causes dissatisfaction in the present. ‘I will be happy once I have a boy/girlfriend’ or ‘I will have peace of mind after I  passed my exams’.  
The secret to a life with less stress lies in acceptance of what is there. Call it mindfulness. That doesn’t mean you have to sit under a tree and do nothing. On the contrary, it means looking closely at your thoughts and feelings and accepting they are there. Don’t fight them – that causes stress as well – but let it be. And challenge your thoughts. Can I put circumstances in a different light? Is it really the end of the world if I fail my exams, or will other opportunities arise? Opportunities that may even lead to better future scenarios.  

What result can I expect from the training 

[André laughs] ”If I could present you with a quick fix to get rid of your stress, we wouldn’t need this training. But seriously, what you will get from the training is more self-insight. And that is a powerful tool for change.   

Change comes from insight, not the other way round. When you stop projecting the past onto the future, and you learn what thoughts cause your fear, you can change the way you think and act upon it. Can you learn to stop thinking? Yes, you can. It takes a lot of practice and it’s certainly not easy, but you can do it.   

I am very much looking forward to meeting you during one of my stress management trainings.  


* I think the current study system in the Netherlands works contra-productive. The student loan system and binding study advice may motivate students to finish their studies in time, but the motivation is mainly driven by fear. Also it deprives students of the freedom to discover what they want. I could talk about this for hours, but unfortunately cannot change it. What I can do is help students to deal with handling stressful situations.