Given the increasing number of highly differentiated degree programmes and countless possible subject combinations, orientation within the higher education landscape is not always easy. Arriving at the university and entering the chosen subject can also raise questions.
The project "Counselling and Orientation" focuses on these transitions offering low-threshold and custom-fit counselling for (prospective) students directly in the faculties and departments.
Experienced student advisors in the project "Counselling and Orientation" complement the student and academic counselling services offered by the faculties and departments. Furthermore, they cooperate with central service institutions such as the Central Student Advisory Service. More specifically, they support
prospective students in making an individually suitable choice of studies.
first-year students in getting a better start in their field of study by means of an orientation process.
students in reflecting on their study difficulties in order to find an individually suitable solution based on appropriate counselling.
The coordinator of the project promotes cross-faculty networking and professionalisation of the counselling services offered at Bielefeld University and is located in the Central Student Advisory Service.
The offers established in eight faculties (biology, educational science, history, health sciences, mathematics, psychology, law, economics) by 10 B+O academic counsellors have been very well received. The success of the project is reflected, among other things, in the key figures that are collected every year. Here are the numbers for 2018:
The B+O counsellors organised approx. 70 events ranging from information for pupils to introductory events for students and occupational orientation workshops. A total of approx. 3600 people took part in these events.
In 2018, the B+O counsellors took part in monthly exchange meetings, where they reflected on their counselling activities and developed them further. They met various university stakeholders, who represent an important network for their counselling activities.
A special characteristic of the project "Counselling and Orientation" is the faculty-specific approach to study counselling. In view of the different needs in the faculties, the counsellors have created custom-fit concepts and materials for their respective subjects. Below are some examples of this work:
Studying economics and law is associated with many stereotypes (e.g. manager, star lawyer, investment banker). However, these stereotypes do not reflect the contents of the course of study; rather, they can lead prospective students to choose a course of study that does not correspond to their actual expectations. The presentations for pupils offered by the Faculty of Economics and Law pick up on these stereotypes and give a first impression of the study programmes. The focus of these presentations is to draw a realistic picture of the study programmes, to discuss expectations and to point out career perspectives. Pupils are given the opportunity to ask questions about the different courses of study. A guided tour through the university gives an initial insight into everyday life at the university and rounds off the programme. In this way, the event supports pupils in making decisions about their choice of course of study.
For many newbies, the study of law is difficult to grasp. One reason is certainly that there is no comparable subject at school that could even rudimentarily illustrate the contents of the course of study. These are "great unknowns", which primarily concern the question "Why Law?". Another equally important question that becomes imminent very quickly is "Where Law?". The introduction “Getting to know the Faculty of Law in one day” is intended to inform prospective students specifically about Bielefeld as a place to study - especially if they have received several admission offers and are still unsure about where to study. In addition to the universally applicable content concerning law studies (primarily about the course of studies and the state examination), they receive additional Bielefeld-specific information, e.g. about the large number of additional courses offered at Bielefeld University (such as international qualification courses, as well as on-site teaching with tutorials throughout the basic studies), and life in the city and its surroundings. The aim is to thus give prospective students good reasons why they should study in Bielefeld.
In the Department of Psychology the B+O-counsellors created the "Study planner - Psychology". This is a 58-page brochure that provides first-year students with the most important information about starting their studies. The study planner contains:
It is handed out to the students during the introductory events of the Department of Psychology. The "Study planner - Psychology" has been very well received by students. Since 2019, student counsellors have been involved in the creation of the "Study planner - Psychology".
The combined Bachelor' programmes in pedagogy and educational science are made up of compulsory and elective courses, some of which can be freely chosen. Depending on the programme, these courses can cover up to three additional subjects.
Therefore, the study counselling of educational science (BIE) that houses the project "Counselling and Orientation" in the faculty of educational science developed so-called planning aids to provide students with guidance and support in planning their studies. The planning aids are created on the basis of subject-specific regulations and are updated regularly. The planning aids can be downloaded from the BIE homepage via the corresponding degree programmes. Here e.g. the planning aid for the core subject of pedagogy.
Another important goal of the project "Counselling and Orientation" is to connect the academic counsellors in order to create synergy effects and intervision. At the same time, the central coordinator of the project provides materials to promote professionalisation and thus guarantee high quality of counselling.
At the beginning of their activities, the B+O counsellors provided an overview of the counselling offered in their respective faculties or departments using a single set of guidelines. The guidelines served to establish contact with other counsellors in the faculties as well as to uncover gaps and insufficiently serviced needs, and to address them with their own counselling services.
The B+O counsellors developed a counselling concept in a complex process involving leaders of central study counselling offices from other universities. The resulting counselling concept allows the analysis and reflection of one's own counselling activities and is therefore an important component of quality assurance.
The activities of the student counselling services vary from one faculty to another. Nonetheless, all faculties have to deal with personnel changes. In order to deal with staff turnover and enable "new" B+O counsellors to start as smoothly as possible, documents have been prepared for the induction of new employees.