LMU’s Unitag: University up close and personal

1 Jul 2021

LMU’s Unitag lets school students spend a semester learning about student life and the different departments at LMU.

LMU’s Unitag (“Uni Day”) is about more than just helping high school students choose which degree course to study: “The program is also great for the students’ personal development,” says Veronika Schmideder, who is in charge of Unitag on the LMU side. “At the start, I always have 30 young people sitting across from me who have so far only known school life and they’ve all been thrown together for this. At the end of the semester, friendships have developed and they’ve become much more self-confident, which is always nice to see.”

But what exactly is Unitag? Meaning “Uni Day” in English, it is exactly what it says it is: Every Friday for one whole semester, students attend the university for lectures or seminars where they learn about university life and the different departments at LMU. “Unitag is a collaboration between the Ministry of Education and LMU,” explains Schmideder. “Every semester, the high schools in Upper Bavaria nominate some of their high-achieving students to participate. We can take around 30 of them on the program.”

From biology to mathematics to the humanities

Getting to know the individual departments was hugely inspiring, says Charlotte, who is in her second semester of studying psychology at LMU. She was one of those lucky enough to take part in Unitag and she still raves about it to this day: “I loved the diversity. Even while I was in school, I was interested in so many subjects, and it was great to be able to expand on that at Unitag.” So far, she’s enrolled in psychology, but that won’t be her only major: “At Unitag, I especially liked the biology event, and I’d love to add that as a second major now, too. Then definitely something from the arts as well, maybe business studies or management.” She laughs: “Unitag was so inspiring, it’s had a lasting effect on me to this day.”

Lively exchange

Klara’s experience with Unitag was similar. She is already in her eighth semester of studying to be a teacher of mathematics and computer science. “I especially liked the exchange with the other school students,” she recalls. “Because we were all equally interested and enthusiastic, we were able to exchange ideas and discuss everything, which is something I often found lacking at school.” The exchange works both ways and, according to Schmideder, that is part of the reason why the individual departments are so keen on being involved in Unitag. “I often get feedback that it’s an exciting event for the lecturers too,” she says. “The events are usually always tailored to the school students, and the small groups mean that they result in some very lively discussions. That’s great for the students, but the lecturers themselves are always very impressed when there are 16- to 17-year-olds sitting there who are already so interested and so focused.”

Unitag in a pandemic

For the last two semesters, Unitag has been canceled, but in the summer semester of 2021 it is taking place once again. “We spent a long time working out the best way to make it work,” reports Schmideder. Now, she says, the program has been slimmed down. “We didn’t want to have Zoom sessions that went on forever—we wanted to focus on sharing and exchange.” That’s why the group was split up: 15 students at a time now take part in a Zoom class that lasts 90 minutes. “That way, we’re able to keep the discussions going.” There is now also a Moodle course to enable sharing and networking among students, which helps to bring in the social aspect to some extent. Another brand new inclusion is the roundtable discussions with Unitag alumni. Schmideder wrote to recent graduates and asked them if they would like to talk about their study experiences in small Zoom meetings. “The response was immense,” she says. “Many still feel a connection to Unitag and are eager to help the newest intake of school students, which I was delighted to hear.”

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