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'Participating in Winter School Gave Me a Chance to Look Behind the Scenes'

It is no secret that when preparing for admission to a master's degree programme graduates should take advantage of every possible opportunity to stand out among others. One way to do so is by taking part in the Winter School, which is organised every year by HSE – St. Petersburg. The event does not only help graduates to decide on the direction of future postgraduate study, but also adds extra points to their portfolios. In this article, the Winter School last year's participants told our editorial board how participation in the event helped them enter master’s degree programmes.

'Participating in Winter School Gave Me a Chance to Look Behind the Scenes'

© HSE University – St Petersburg

About Winter School

The Winter School features two days of meetings with leading HSE professors and experts of top companies. By taking part in the event, prospective students do not only gain new knowledge and exchange experience but also get more peace of mind when applying to a master's programme – the Winter School participants receive a certificate that adds extra points to their portfolio.

Sofia Butenko, a first-year student of the Master's Programme 'Comparative Politics of Eurasia'

Sofia Butenko, a first-year student of the Master's Programme 'Comparative Politics of Eurasia'

I learned about the Winter School from an official group of my educational programme on VKontakte (a Russian social networking service). I had decided to participate in order to learn more about this very master's programme as well as other degrees offered at HSE – St. Petersburg.

The event took place online and I was satisfied with the insights I had received. Actually, I think the online format is pretty handy both for attending classes and taking part in events of this kind.

I entered the desired master's programme with the results of the Higher League Olympiad, so I didn't bother about getting any additional points. Despite the fact that I had decided on a programme long before the Winter School started, I enjoyed the opportunity to get to know other master's programmes. The event also gives a nice bonus – a diploma of the participant that adds extra points to one's portfolio.

I would advise future participants of the Winter School not to be afraid to ask questions and talk to master’s programmes academic supervisors, professors and students who take part in the event. And if you have not yet fully decided on which direction you want to follow in your academic life, then you should certainly leverage that chance.

Yulia Shumilova, a first-year student of the Master's Programme 'Arts and Culture Management'

Yulia Shumilova, a first-year student of the Master's Programme 'Arts and Culture Management'

I learned about the Winter School when I was a third-year bachelor student. My professors recommended me to participate, saying it was a great chance to get some valuable insights and attend lectures from invited guests who are currently working in the field.

I wanted to apply for the 'Arts and Culture Management' Master’s Programme, so I took part only in that section of the event. We were told about the peculiarities of studying on the programme, future projects and also got acquainted with the master's programme partners, including the University of Milan, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore. This was followed by workshops: performing arts, hospitality industry and event management.

The workshops, of course, were the most memorable. Attending them is a unique opportunity to listen to the company’s representatives sharing their professional stories, to find out the pains & gains of companies. Well, when else could you be given a chance to ask questions to the General Producer of the New Stage of the Alexandrinsky Theatre?

Participating in the Winter School helped me realise that I really wanted to study in the programme I had chosen. I learned how the training was going to be arranged, met with professors and future colleagues, as well as discovered the possibility of a double degree diploma. In addition, a certificate of participation in the Winter School gives a nice bonus – additional points to the portfolio, which will definitely help during the admission!

I would advise future participants of the Winter School to leverage this opportunity to get first-hand information. Don't be afraid to ask questions to professionals who have long been working in the sphere and can give some really valuable advice.

Whether you are a student or a graduate, it’s never too late to take part in this event! Participating in the Winter School at HSE – St. Petersburg is a great experience: you discover a lot of new things, get the opportunity to ask questions to the speakers and learn about real-life projects.

Philip Kucharsky, first-year student of the Master's Programme 'Machine Learning and Data Analysis'

Philip Kucharsky, first-year student of the Master's Programme 'Machine Learning and Data Analysis'

I came across the Winter School browsing through social networks of HSE – St. Petersburg. As soon as I saw the announcement, I signed up for the event. I believe this is a unique opportunity to get to know the university better, so I would recommend everyone to jump at that chance!

The Winter School was held in a remote format. One part of the event was like an open day, where you could find answers to all your questions about studying and life at the university. The other part was more practice-oriented – as real students, we had classes and even managed to solve an applied task together with the professor. Besides, it was possible to attend lectures at which invited speakers discussed the most current and burning topics. Despite being held online, all events were as engaging as face-to-face meetings.

The Winter School was like a buddy to a newcomer, who walked me through all the rooms and presented to my future peers. And, of course, it influenced my decision to enter the HSE – St. Petersburg, which I am really happy about.

I would advise future participants of the Winter School not to miss such events because it is a great experience. In my opinion, it is worth starting in advance – at least a year before the admission starts.

Anastasia Novikova, a first-year student of the Master's Programme 'Global and Regional History'

Anastasia Novikova, a first-year student of the Master's Programme 'Global and Regional History'

At the beginning of the fourth year of my studies, I had already decided on the programme for which I was going to apply. After that, I signed up to participate in the Winter School. Of course, I wanted to get some extra points for my portfolio, but it was not the main aim, as I also got really curious about the lectures announced in the event schedule.

The impression of the Winter School had been a little bit blurred by the fact that the event was held online. I enjoy live communication, so I quickly get tired of online events. Nevertheless, I was satisfied with the event organisation and there were no technical problems. I really enjoyed the lectures given by the professors of the master’s programme that I was going to enrol in. It was amazing to meet with other prospective and current students, to listen about their learning experience. A huge advantage of the online format was the opportunity to communicate with foreign students.

I was mostly impressed by the lecture held by Tatyana Borisova, it was very dynamic and touched upon several burning issues. Since I was applying for the English-taught Master's Programme in Global and Regional History, I was afraid that my language skills would not be enough, and my research interests would not fit into the concept of the programme. However, talking with the students and professors, and listening to their personal experience encouraged me a lot.

I can not deny that the Winter School helped me with the admission. And I would recommend it to everyone. Firstly, being similar to a university open day, the event allows prospective students to look under the hood of the programme, say, to see how classes are arranged. Secondly, of course, it grants some points for the portfolio, which is a huge bonus.

From my experience, I can say that it is better to start thinking about a future master’s programme and participate in such events already in the third year. Well, the earlier you start taking part in various events of this kind, the easier it is to understand the specifics of the university and each individual master's programme, make a choice and start preparing for admission. Besides, for those looking for a way to change a major, such events will help to quickly get to know a new profession.

Elizaveta Zakuraeva, a first-year student of the Master's Programme 'Arts and Culture Management'

Elizaveta Zakuraeva, a first-year student of the Master's Programme 'Arts and Culture Management'

In the third year of my undergraduate studies, I knew for sure that I wanted to continue my academic path, but I did not know which postgraduate area and university to choose.

Participating in the Winter School gave me a chance to look behind the scenes of the educational programme I was interested in: to get to know my future professors, learn about the programme partners, immerse myself in the HSE atmosphere and understand whether it suited me or not. I really liked the fact that the current students themselves organised the event and took part in it, giving us a chance to get first-hand insights into the learning process.

The Winter School lasts only two days, during which it is hard to learn something entirely new. But it is enough to get to know the industry from the inside attending lectures by HSE partners — representatives of large well-known companies and organisations, industry leaders.

I was most impressed by a creative session where we had to come up with projects for cultural events: exhibitions, festivals, concerts and much more. This immediately immersed the participants in the everyday student's life and helped get a sneak peek at what classes at the Master's Programme 'Arts and Culture Management' look like.

I attended two Winter Schools – in 2020 and 2021. In both years the programme was very intense. In 2021, the online format made it easier to attend each lecture. But at the full-time Winter School held in 2020, there was a slight lack of structure in the schedule, due to which there sometimes was an overlap in the timetable.

I don’t know how it was with other master’s programmes, but those applicants who had attended the events organised by our programme were given additional points upon admission. So it is not only informative but also pretty useful!

I would definitely recommend everyone who is planning to enter the Higher School of Economics to participate in the Winter School! This will help decide and learn important details about the educational programme you are most interested in. Current students will talk about the challenges they had faced in the learning process, professors will share information about the main tracks and career opportunities. In addition to that, it will be possible to ask the programme’s partners about opportunities they provide for students for launching projects or doing internships in their organisations. And there will be alumni who will reveal what paths for professional development have opened up to them after graduation.

My advice is to start participating in such events from the third year of undergraduate studies. Give yourself time to think everything over, acquire the necessary additional competencies and possibly change the vector.

Elena Khokhlova, a first-year student of the Master's Programme 'Russian Literature in Cross-Cultural and Intermedial Perspectives'

Elena Khokhlova, a first-year student of the Master's Programme 'Russian Literature in Cross-Cultural and Intermedial Perspectives'

I learned about the Winter School from my professor – he was to take part in the event as a speaker and so he invited our group. I joined the event in order to attend the presentation of the Master's programme 'Russian Literature in Cross-Cultural and Intermedial Perspectives', in which I am currently enrolled. During the speaking session with the programme professors, I thought: 'Wow, one day I will attend their lectures.'

I am completely satisfied with the insights I received at the last Winter School. Despite being held online, I felt as if I were sitting in a room among other graduates. I learned everything I wanted to know about entering the chosen master's programme and got really inspired by the amazing lectures.

Participation in the event helped me a lot in the admission process – the certificate, which is sent out to all the participants adds extra points to the portfolio.

Actually, I was going to participate in the third year, but I did not manage to do it. Thus, I would advise future participants to prepare in advance and attend at least two Winter Schools. I think this event would be especially useful for current bachelor students, as during the Winter School there is a unique chance to communicate with future professors and make sure you are on the right track.

The Winter School will be held on February 19-20 in an online format. Sign up to receive a link on the day of the event.