Student Advice Centre at RWTH Turns 50
Having started with its advising services in 1972, the center is now celebrating its 50th anniversary. The center’s team helps prospective students find the right course of studies, offers enrolled students support with learning problems, or provides psychological counseling, among others.
The center’s early days in September 1972 were not exactly accompanied by great fanfare. Only a handful of employees at RWTH Aachen University started the Student Advice Centre (ZSB) 50 years ago. It was established as the first point of contact for all prospective students, high-school students, and students already enrolled at RWTH, but also for parents, teachers, and others in the students’ lives.
Now, 50 years later, around 40 employees work in the offices at the corner of Templergraben and Pontstraße. The multi-professional team provides academic advising and psychological counseling, coordinates the special programs for high-school students, and counsels them in finding the right course of study. The staff is also there for enrolled students who are experiencing doubts about their choice of program or encounter difficulties as they go along, such as learning problems, personal crises, and stress. “Our counseling is always confidential, open-ended, and client-centered,” explains the head of ZSB, Dr. Mandana Biegi.
In 2021 alone, about 16,000 individuals received information about studies at RWTH, and 3,100 were given detailed and individualized advice at the ZSB. Over the past 50 years, more than 500,000 young people have been helped with a wide range of issues and problems.
More Varied Tasks
The team’s tasks have become ever more varied over the years. In the talent scouting project, for instance, high-school students from non-academic families are assisted and bolstered in their decision-making process. The new state program “NRWTalente” awards scholarships to high-achieving adolescents whose parents have not attended university. In the “STEM for Schoolgirls” project, young women are encouraged and supported to choose degree programs in STEM subjects.
The team also offers counseling sessions for enrolled students who have doubts about their choice of program or special classes and training for those dealing with learning problems. In addition, the ZSB team produces helpful film clips on various learning psychology topics. “Personalized counseling remains our core mission, and most of our time is spent on confidential, one-on-one counseling. Nevertheless, in our role as an advising institution, we must and also want to offer a very diverse range of services because the lives of prospective and enrolled students have become so much more confusing and complex. In response to this situation, we provide many tailor-made offerings and have added virtual access channels,” explains Biegi.
RWTH’s student advice center is pleased to present various special events and activities throughout its anniversary year, finally concluding with a symposium on “Counseling and Equal Opportunities” in September 2023.