A Trial Week at University

When we discussed access to higher education at the Global Summit in Riva, one of the highly recurrent issues was that access to higher education requires information about higher education. The respective slogan was: know your options! But how do you inform your decision on whether you want to go to college and which subject you want to study? You can talk to a lot of people, surf on many a website and read all these glossy brochures universities publish in order to recruit students. However, you still don’t know what college is like. You don’t know what college is like until you experienced it.

In Riva, we found that one of the good things about online lectures was that they enable future students to get an insight into university. Attending an online lecture might give you a sneak peek. But let’s be honest!There is more about going to college then just attending lectures. It’s a new life, a new lifestyle. Living on campus or with other students in a shared apartment, instead of living with your family. A whole new environment. And not to mention all the parties. So wouldn’t it be great if high school students could just try out university for a week or so?

Seven German students come up with an equally simple and convincing idea to enable exactly this. On their website, they set up high school and college students. The latter host the former for a week, take them to lectures, introduce them to their study subject, show them around on campus, explain to them how everything works at college and bring them to parties. In short, they give them an introduction into life as a college student.

What I find intriguing about this project is how simple but effective it is. There is something obvious about the idea (and still, it did not come to our minds in our long and extensive discussions). Implementing it does not take much. Especially, it is not expensive. Actually, all it takes is a website and volunteers. In order to inform their decision, participating high school students get valuable and authentic insights into university life in general and into the subject they plan to study in particular. Of course, a week is a short time. Too short to answer all the questions. But it is more than a sneak peek.