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Pulling the Plug

Each year, around 1,200 students go to the Psychological Counseling Office at the Bremen Student Services Organization. What help do Swantje Wrobel and her team offer when it’s not going so smoothly? The topic today: Changing your degree course.

Campus Life

Everything is going to plan after just a few weeks at university? That’s not the case for everyone. Several students suffer through each day; they simply cannot find their footing in their degree. Sound familiar? Do not panic – you are not too stupid to study. It’s possible that you have simply chosen the wrong subject.

“I would never have thought that I would have to do so much math.” The young woman in Swantje Wrobel’s office hour is in despair. She is doing a psychology degree. Why has she had to endure statistics for weeks? Numbers. Again and again. No one can deal with that!

Wrobel is head of the Psychological Counseling Office (PBS) at the Bremen Student Services Organization. Several weeks after the beginning of the semester, Wrobel and her team often find themselves in the same situation: Students explain that they cannot keep up. They’re not missing any lectures, are going through the course work again each night, and are receiving help from their fellow students – yet they are still hopelessly behind.

Finding Your Talent

“Many start to doubt themselves and believe they are more stupid than others – but that is not the point,” explains the psychologist. Each persons has a talent for something. The trick is finding these talents and choosing the fitting degree course.

The PBS can help with this. For example, during the talk with the psychology student it transpires that she is particularly good at dealing with people. She even manages to find the right words in stressful situations. She has, however, never been on good terms with math. It is so bad that she is on the brink of quitting her studies only a few weeks after the degree has started.

Changing Degree Course Is Not the End of the World

“It is important to find out how big the math problem really is. Will she manage the first semester if she puts in extra hours? She should definitely try,” recommends Wrobel. Or is the learning lag so bad that she begins to feel ill when she thinks of the next exam? If so, then she should think about changing her degree subject. It is not the end of the world, especially in the first two semesters.

How can I find out which degree is the right one for me? Wrobel has a few tips: “One way could be to find out more about the intended career. What is the day-to-day life of psychologist really like? Would a job as a social worker maybe be better suited to me?”

Try It Out

The first place to go for students who wish to change their degree course is the Central Student Advisory Service at the university. Moreover, the Career Center can help, for example with information on dual degree programs. Generally, it is not a problem to try out other subjects. “It is all about broadening your horizons and then making an informed decision,” summarizes Wrobel.

One thing is very important: “Changing your degree course has nothing to do with failing.” A strong character does not suffer through eight semesters but rather pulls the plug in a timely manner. “Responsible people look for something that they are passionate about. After all, what you choose should accompany you for a few years, if not your whole career.”

Psychological Counseling

The Psychological Counseling Office is located in the University of Bremen Central Campus Building underneath the cafeteria (Mensa). The secretariat is open from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Mondays, Tuesday, Thursday and Fridays and from 2p.m. to 4 p.m. on Wednesdays. Appointments can also be made on the phone (22 01 – 1 13 10) or via email pbs@stw-bremen.de. There is also an online counseling service. The Psychological Counseling Office services are offered free of charge to students at the university and higher education institutions in Bremen and Bremerhaven.

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