Campus - 06.09.2023 - 08:00 

HSG StartWeek: programme to support first-year students to get to know their University.

No other Swiss university integrates their new students as well as HSG. StartWeek, a programme helping nearly 1700 students to get to know their University, will begin on 11. September 2023. Among other things, it includes an introduction of new students to experts from the business, politics, and research fields.
HSG-StartWoche: 1700 Erstsemestrige lernen ihre Universität kennen
Keine andere Schweizer Universität begleitet ihre neuen Studierenden so eng wie die HSG. Die StartWoche, in der dieses Jahr rund 1700 Studierende die Universität und ihr neues Umfeld kennenlernen, wird im September 2023 zum zweiten Mal in einem neuen Format durchgeführt. Unter anderem steht der Austausch von Studierenden mit Expertinnen und Experten aus Wirtschaft, Politik und Forschung auf dem Programm.

In just 90 seconds, convince a jury and the audience that you have the best idea: This is the first task for the 1700 new bachelor’s students will be faced with. The task of working on these "Elevator Pitches" in groups is part of the HSG StartWeek. This event introduces first-year students to university life and work from September 11 to 15, 2023. In addition to administrative introductions, such as examinations, study architecture, the HSG campus, or the library, first-year students work on a group project, a case study on the topic of "Polarization." The goal is for the new students to develop a strategy, on behalf of a fictional foundation, to overcome the increasing division in society. To implement this task, participants can rely on a Human Library format, with external experts on hand. This year, HSG has invited authors like Lukas Bärfuss, historian and political scientist Regula Stämpfli, and rhetoric trainer Michael Berndorfer, among others. The results from the case study – the Elevator Pitch and a short video or performance – can be presented to a jury by six selected groups at the end of the week. This happens not behind closed doors but on a stage in front of the entire new assessment year group at the Olma Halls. In addition to the jury, which includes longtime SRF journalist Henriette Engbersen, HSG philosopher Michael Festl, and Elisa Zerillo from the student sustainability organization oikos, the audience can also determine their favourite with the Audience Award.

StartWeek is one of the most comprehensive projects implemented at HSG. The StartWeek team, consisting of a six-person core team and four student project leaders, is supported by 180 tutors and various other HSG staff members. "Our top priority is to integrate the new students socially, academically, and administratively as effectively as possible," says Miriam Mrisi, head of StartWeek. In addition to Start Week, the "Kick-Off Days" for approximately 760 newly enrolled master's and doctoral students at HSG will take place during the same period.

New Concept Proves Successful

The current concept of StartWeek emerged under the significant influence from the COVID-19 years. "Those were two exhausting but also very instructive years. At the same time, this period of change showed us the potential for new things and gave us the courage to try different things," says Mrisi. Thus, StartWeek was redesigned for the previous year and made more modular, flexible, and digital: Tutors have more freedom in planning. Many events which used to take place in a large auditorium, now take place digitally. To the great relief of the StartWeek team, the new concept worked smoothly during its first implementation. "The redesign was a risky endeavour, but it worked perfectly right from the start, so we only needed minor adjustments this year," says Miriam Mrisi.

Experienced Students Assist First-Year Students

During the week, around 180 tutors support the Start Week team. These are experienced students who mentor a group of first-year students in pairs. "They have to apply for this role. Many of them remember how important their own StartWeek was and want to contribute to the HSG community," says Miriam Mrisi. Those who wish to become tutors complete a two-semester course as part of the HSG Context Studies program, which focuses on social, historical, and cultural aspects.

These experienced students also help first-year students get to know the city of St.Gallen. StartWeek also includes various social events such as a student association barbecue. Additionally, most of the over 140 student associations active at HSG introduce themselves. Miriam Mrisi adds, "Of course, the primary focus of the StartWeek is to convey important information. However, it's also very important that students make as many new contacts as possible during this time."

Image: StartWeek 2022

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