Taking Success into Your Own Hands
Securing a spot at a reputable German university is a rewarding feeling for many young students. The process is hard – you need to get good grades, understand some German, and be prepared to deal with a lot of bureaucracy before you can finally call Germany your home for the duration of your studies. That’s why we really stress how important it is to approach the concept of studying in Germany as something special. Not everyone will get the opportunity to study overseas, let alone Germany; so if you do become one of the lucky ones, make sure you give it your all.
Student life takes on a whole different meaning once you enter your university years. No-one checks your attendance at roll-call, you don’t have to wear a uniform, you can come and go from the campus as you like, and no-one will give you detention for skipping a class. As fantastic as this sounds, it’s also a danger zone. This now means that you are almost entirely responsible for your own academic success. The reason why you won’t get punished for skipping class? Because it will be you, not your lecturer, that fails your degree if you skimp on your attendance efforts. Sure, a little fun as a student is also an important part of your university years, but just don’t let the balance between work and play become too one-sided.
At German universities, there is a lot of emphasis on self-responsibility. Every semester of university requires you to gain approval to continue in your studies. You’ll need to have sufficient funds, and not be failing the course. Each exam period also requires you to register yourself online first. If you forgot / couldn’t be bothered / spent way too much time at the Biergarten, no-one will do it for you – it means that you won’t be able to sit the exam, ultimately meaning that you will fail that exam.1
Unfortunately, the statistics show that foreign students are almost twice as likely to discontinue their degree compared with native German students (41% versus 28% discontinuation rate)?2 Such a high discontinuation rate means it is even less likely that foreign students will achieve a German master’s degree – something that is generally highly valued and almost expected from German employers. Even given a good job market in Germany, 54% of foreign students return home after completion of their degree.2
Graduating from a German university, particularly with a master’s degree, and then continuing on to find professional employment, appears to be no easy feat. Yes, there are national targets to improve the success rate and retainment of foreign students in Germany3, however the statistics won’t improve without the efforts of the students enrolling in the universities.
So before you take the TestAS, before you start short-listing German universities, and before you start browsing the ads for student apartments, make sure you are ready to accept what the next 3+ years of life at a German university will require: a solemn and focussed mindset to doing the best you can in the position you were fortunate enough to acquire.
Since 2014, edulink has been providing support services for helping international students embark on a successful life studying and living in Germany. In addition to providing advice and services to help international students relocate to Germany, they also offer important information about gaining entrance into certain German universities, in particular through taking the Test for Academic Studies (TestAS). For more information, visit the edulink or TestAS Preparation websites.
1. Bachelor und Master 2013; destatis: Bildung und Kultur 1980-2012; Was spricht für ein Masterstudium? 2013; „Die Regelstudienzeit ist für uns eher zweitrangig“ 2013.
2. Stifter Verband & McKinsey & Company 2015, ‘Ausländische Studierende in Deutschland‘, Hochschul-Bildungs-Report 2020, http://www.hochschulbildungsreport2020.de/handlungsfelder/internationale-bildung/fokus-2015-campus-international (accessed 25 June 2017).
3. Stifter Verband & McKinsey & Company 2016, ‘Hochschulbildung fur die Arbeitswelt 4.0: Jahresbericht 2016‘, Hochschul-Bildungs-Report 2020, http://www.hochschulbildungsreport2020.de/downloads (accessed 25 June 2017).