It’s okay to put the teacher on the spot

Tuula Juvonen and Pekka Nykänen

With these tips how can you not succeed? Tuula Juvonen and Pekka Nykänen laugh. Aikalainen asked the University lecturers who received the Good Teacher Awards to give some tips to students.

Be active. Search for information. Ask.

Tuula Juvonen and Pekka Nykänen, the recipients of the University of Tampere Good Teacher Awards, wonder why students will not come to talk about things directly with their teachers.

– Consultation hours are an opportunity to come to talk with your teacher even about problematic things. I really can’t understand why in the past year only about three students have come to see me, says Tuula Juvonen.

Pekka Nykänen, University Lecturer in insurance science advises students to make the most of contact teaching.

– It sometimes baffles me that many students just come to the first, the eighth and last lecture in a lecture series and even then will leave in the middle of the lectures.

Teachers are there for the student.

– You can put us teachers on the spot, Pekka says.

– It is especially easy for me to agree with this as I will work as a researcher for the next five years, Tuula laughs.

Do not be afraid to change direction

Tuula Juvonen found her own field, gender studies, only on the third try. She first studied architecture and social policy.

Tuula’s advice is to study only the subjects that you are really interested in, not just those that you think will be useful in the future.

– I am absolutely of the opinion that you cannot fixate on what is happening in the job markets. In my opinion, it is worth abandoning your worries about where to find a ready job for yourself so that you don’t have to study boring subjects for that reason only.

Pekka agrees that it is not worth studying just for one’s career. However, some choices are worth making in view of working life.

– In some subjects, like in my field, insurance science, people are probably more career-oriented, Pekka says.

– But you should not just go with the flow like everybody else in all your course choices. You can build very different degrees at the university which open up different opportunities in the future.

Tuula sums it up like this: If you are looking for a ready career, you should make sure that you do the relevant studies to obtain professional competence. If you want to create your own job, you should make sure that your interests are in the right place. At best, both can be combined in the same package.

– As I understand it, it is getting ever harder to change track. However, I would personally really recommend it if things are not going okay, Juvonen says.

– It is important that studying is gratifying and rewarding

Make choices

Students no longer come to study a major subject in the new degree programmes. The wide-ranging Bachelor’s programmes offer good opportunities to make choices but at the same time they require that the students are more active.

– The new degree programmes put the students in a position where they have to actively seek out information and think about their own interests, Pekka Nykänen says.

Especially at the beginning it is worth being curious and trying to sample all the major subjects in which you can specialize in the Master’s Programme.

Pekka thinks you should choose a couple of interesting study paths around which you start building your studies.

– If the plans you have made need to be updated, it is easy to revise your HOPS, personal study plan.

Seek help in time

If you do not know how to move forward in your studies, it pays to contact the study guidance services of the University or the study guidance or teachers at your own School.

– Older students can also give good tips but you should not believe all rumours that go around. Study guidance and the teachers are a safe source of information, Pekka says.

If you cannot shake your anxiety, you should seek help as soon as possible from the Finnish Student Health Services.

– It is not rare or unheard of that a new stage in life can cause worry. If your worries start to mount to the point that they interfere with your studies, you should seek help immediately, says Tuula Juvonen.

Being academic is asking

– You are fully responsible for the advancement of your studies, above all to yourself and to some extent also to the officials at student financial aid. You plan and build the whole of your degree. Nobody here will come and cosset you, Pekka Nykänen says.

– Being academic means that you learn to seek information, to formulate questions and to seek answers. That is what we are here for, the Good Teachers encourage.

Text: Tiina Lankinen
Translation: Laura Tohka
Photo: Teemu Launis

This story was originally published in Finnish in Aikalainen 11/2012