Buddies against study doubts

matrix is ​​developing buddy guidelines for universities as part of the Next Career project

Thomas has long had doubts about his choice of course. He informs himself on the Internet, but cannot find a solution to his problem on his own. He doesn't dare to go to the student advisory service - the inhibition threshold is too great. Like him, there are many young people who have doubts about their studies. Support is often sought in personal conversations with friends, acquaintances and family members. Thomas becomes aware of the buddy program at his university. There he can entrust himself to a student mentor who listens, passes on important information and thus helps him to gain new orientation. Study doubts can be massively counteracted through peer-to-peer counseling. This is why matrix has developed a buddy guide for universities as part of the Next Career project.

Buddy-Leitfaden für Hochschulen

With the Next Career project, which was commissioned by the Ministry of Culture and Science of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia (MKW NRW) and is funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), the subjects of doubts about studying and dropping out of university are removed from the taboo and advisory services are intensified. In order to establish sustainable structures at universities and to create low-threshold offers for students, matrix has now examined the possibilities and opportunities of student buddy and mentoring programs. The results were published in a guide on the project website.

A buddy program as an offer of help in case of study doubts has many advantages and continues a principle that is firmly anchored in the university context: Students help students. In peer-to-peer communication, the exchange takes place on an equal footing, the inhibition threshold for those who doubt study is lower due to the informal character than in a professional counseling situation. The university, on the other hand, takes on its social responsibility and makes it clear that it stands up for the needs of its students. The effective use of assistance such as buddy programs provides them with orientation, while at the same time making an important contribution to educational equity, among other things by avoiding misguided investments in education and using study places sensibly.

When creating the guide, matrix proceeded as follows:

  • A large number of existing buddy and mentoring programs were analyzed and differentiated in an online survey.
  • Interviews were held with six experts, whose specific experience and expertise were incorporated into the guide.
  • The guideline was deliberately kept general so that it can be adapted to the specific circumstances of the university.

From the knowledge and experience of the 33 programs, valuable implications can be derived that can help universities develop their own buddy program for those who are skeptical. Interested parties can find out what factors need to be considered when developing a buddy program, how it differs from professional advisory services and how students can be encouraged to participate. The guidelines also provide you with useful information on the topics of concept development, matching, public relations and quality management.

Buddy-Leitfaden für Hochschulen

The following steps are crucial in developing a buddy program:

  • Internal coordination and disclosure of resources
  • Concept for recruiting and qualifying buddies
  • Approach to target group-oriented addressing of those who are doubtful of their studies
  • Continuous support and further development of the program

Further information on the Next Career project, the actors involved and the relevant results can be found here: To the Next Career website.

For the implementation of the project, MKW NRW has the matrix GmbH & Co. KG instructed. The project duration is initially designed for a period up to December 2020.