The University inaugurated the new, modern offices of the Berman Center for Psychological Counseling and Career Guidance toward the end of January. The vital Center, which last year handled some 2,000 students, was enabled thanks to the generosity of American industrialist Bennett Berman and his late wife, Gertrude, long-time supporters of the University. Mrs. Berman’s illness at the time had prevented the couple from being present at the ceremony, which included remarks by Prof. Ofra Nevo, Center Director, on the facility’s operation and a talk by Prof. Shlomo Breznitz, Director of the R.D. Wolfe Center for the Study of Psychological Stress, on childhood memory as a catalyst for academic research.
An integral part of the Dean of Students Office, the Berman Center assists students in two areas. One area, grouped under the rubric “career guidance,” helps students to choose subjects for study and to adapt to the academic study environment. Possessing a large computer database on subjects and departments, this unit provides information and advice on fields of study, selecting a major, job opportunities in specific occupations, improving learning skills, coping with examinations, and job seeking. Some of these services are offered to the community at large, others just to the University’s students and graduates.
The second area, staffing for which was enabled in part by the financial assistance of the Ron Adler Foundation, is that of clinical therapy. Part-time clinical psychologists and graduate students in clinical psychology (for whom the Center offers a kind of internship) try to help students to deal with a variety of personal problems. These may involve a momentary scholastic crisis or more long-term emotional situations, problem with parents or with a wife or partner, social or educational adjustment difficulties, or the non-realization of one’s potential. Nevo pointed to the vast need for this service, which has risen from the provision of some 470 hours of private counseling sessions in 1994 to over 3,650 hours last year.
For the future, Nevo wants to institute workshops on preparing students to enter the workforce, on family (including partner) relationships, and on dealing with learning difficulties.
The academic staff of the Breznitz Center, including doctoral students, is also involved in pertinent research. A recent survey that Nevo and colleagues conducted among 1,000 students and graduates found that female students tended to depend more on parents and scholarships to finance their tuition whereas male students tended to work off campus with this objective. Female students are also much more involved in community activities, such as helping disadvantaged youngsters.
Based on data collected from 1991-1994, the survey learned that graduates of the Economics and Political Science Departments earned more than did graduates from other departments. Only 44 percent of the graduates had succeeded in obtaining a job directly related to their field of study.
Departments could be classified as “male” and “female”: some 88 percent of those studying political science and 69 percent of the economics students were men; women made up 97 percent of the art students, 88 percent of those studying education, 87 percent of the language students, 86 percent of the psychology and social work majors, and 74 percent of sociology and geography students. Mixed-gender departments included history, math, computer sciences, and statistics.
The survey also found that some 40 percent of the graduates regretted taking at least one of their majors, mainly because the subject turned out to be not practical for them in the outside world.
Almost all those surveyed thought it very important to receive information about employment opportunities before choosing a field of study and during the course of their academic education. Only 44 percent said they found work in the area they had chosen to study, 37 percent did not bother to look for jobs in their particular study fields, while 20 percent claimed to have found it very difficult to find work in areas they had studied while in university.
Although the utilitarian side of their education may have proved disappointing for many graduates, most admitted that their studies served as a springboard for integrating them into the labor force, especially at a higher level of occupation. Ironically most also remarked that their work accorded with or even exceeded the expectations they had as students.