University of Helsinki: Clarity for study plans from PSP supervisors and supervising teachers

At the bachelor’s stage, students can reach out to the teacher serving as their PSP supervisor, while master’s level students can contact their supervising teacher.

– I’m like a relay station for students. I don’t know the answer to everything, but I can guide them to the right source, says Kirsi Svedström. Together with Tuomo Nieminen, Svedström serves as the PSP supervisor for physical sciences at the Faculty of Science.

– The Bachelor’s Programme in Physical Sciences includes the courses Study Skills 1 and 2 where students come together as a group, discussing general questions related to study skills. When necessary, students can continue the discussion in one-on-one chats with their supervisor, Svedström says.

Those who ask will find their way
Among others, specialists in atmospheric sciences visit the courses to give lectures on their research fields. In the physical sciences, there are plenty of fields to choose from, ranging from theoretical physics to astronomy.

– It may be challenging to guide individual students to narrow down the focus of their studies, but usually the direction becomes clearer when you respond to their questions with further questions, Nieminen says.

The PSP supervisors point out that not everything has to be right the first time, and that personal study plans can be updated when necessary. Study tracks can be chosen on the basis of personal interests.

– You should keep your personal coping in mind to avoid packing too many interesting courses into one term, Svedström notes. Besides, there are limits to how many courses can be included in a degree. If coping is difficult, help is also available from counselling psychologists.

Assistance for considering different study tracks and career options
At the beginning of master’s studies, students are invited to a session that is followed by the opportunity to talk to their academic affairs coordinator. Katrianne Lehtipalo serves as the supervising teacher for the Study Track in Aerosol Physics of the Master’s Programme in Atmospheric Sciences.

– At the master’s level, students are usually interested in career options after graduation and potential postgraduate studies. While the study path for those who wish to become meteorologists is clear, the options in all study tracks are not as straightforward, Lehtipalo says.

Even though the situation varies by individual, master’s level students have a representative of their study track at their disposal who can help them draw up their study plans.

– Sometimes people overthink what things can lead to. Skills relevant to professional life can be gained from any kind of studying, says Lehtipalo. Lehtipalo emphasises that the skills accumulated can be tailored to various positions.

Usually, problems have been solved in a single discussion with the supervising teacher. Lehtipalo encourages students to feel free to also reach out to other researchers and staff of the Faculty. Course coordinators are likely to meet their students more often than the supervising teacher.

– You can ask about all career options. Of course, we are most familiar with academic careers, as that’s what we ourselves have, she chuckles.

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