Hertie School students interact in front of a computer screen

High schoolers get a first taste of university life at Hertie School social sciences event


Online discussion with pupils and CIVICA university students aims to promote access to higher education.

Students and alumni from the Hertie School and other members of the CIVICA European University alliance recently reached out to high schoolers across Germany as part of its effort of promote access to higher education.

In an online event on 21 January, European Study Day: Mit CIVICA Universität erleben, 15-to-18-year-olds from schools across Germany participated in discussions to find out what it is like to study social sciences. The objective was to help them navigate the transition from secondary school to higher education, especially first-generation prospective students.

Participants included Hertie School students and alumni, CIVICA Ambassadors and representatives from Bocconi University in Milan, Stockholm School of Economics, Central European University in Vienna and The London School of Economics and Political Science.

“Students were extremely engaged in the different activities and were keen to learn more about the insights of pursuing a career in social sciences,” says Hertie School CIVICA Ambassador Júlia Cots Capell. “I wish I could have participated in such an activity during my years in high school.”

The idea was to connect with pupils who might not have access to information about higher education, not as a recruiting exercise, but to give them a hands-on taste of the university experience and an informal exchange with peers.

“We wanted to connect with young people with an interest in these topics at this exact point in their lives, to help them understand more about the social sciences,” says Riccardo Colella, Associate for CIVICA Communications and Events at the Hertie School. “It is a first way to find out what is available to them and to see if they want to pursue this kind of study in the future.”

The event included a 45-minute workshop on intercultural dialogue and diversity, followed by roundtable discussions on studying social sciences, research, careers and study abroad. The roundtable discussion served as a kind of student fair.

“As an ice-breaker, event organisers started out with a Mentimeter warm-up, asking about the participants’ aspirations and dreams,” says Colella. “We tried to find out a bit more about the group – did people see themselves more as activists or politicians – would they be more interested in winning an Oscar or a Nobel prize?”

To follow up afterwards, the CIVICA student facilitators offered for the participants to reach out with any questions after the event.

Written by Ellen Thalman (Hertie School)

Banner photo: Hertie School archive