So, you’ve looked at the possibility of studying in Germany and are thinking of following through with it. You may be directed to a studienkolleg first and from personal experience, this public education institution has given me the best possible start in a country where I’d be facing a language and cultural barrier.
The studienkolleg is a “public educational institution in Germany, Austria and Switzerland for students whose graduation certificate is not recognized as equivalent to the Abitur (high school level). It is a preparatory course for academic study at university.” (Source: http://www.studienkollegs.de/en)
- Basically, the studienkolleg is built to give you a fighting chance when learning side by side with German native students; it’s a high chance they have studied the same subjects during their last few high school years.
- For people with particular language difficulties, the studienkolleg provides a friendly environment that immerses you in the world of business and economic terms, math theory and practical German lessons. This is something I would never have come across during my own studies with language books.
- The studienkolleg puts you in a classroom with other students that have the same goal, quickly allowing you to build study groups, meet people with the same language level and determination. I can say that it can be daunting to talk to a native speaker at the beginning, especially when you’re beginning to be painfully aware of your mistakes.
- Frequently, the studienkolleg is bundled with a student advisory, who can help navigate the new and unfamiliar waters of Germany. I’ve seen students seek help with things like mail, finding student housing or getting a new contract term cleared up on the lease agreement. Use this help to make it easier for yourself!
- This may vary from studienkolleg to studienkolleg, but my experience told me that the classes are usually small, in my case, limiting the class to around 20 people. This means getting more individual attention to your learning needs, especially when it comes to language. Questions, repetition of the learned material is welcomed.
- I’ve seen the studienkolleg as a manageable challenge; it was harder than high school, but easier than university – the extra layer of difficulty was mainly added by the language barrier and unfamiliar business economics concepts. Interestingly, this variability of the students coming in makes the studienkolleg experience different for everyone and it’s up to the student to recognise the challenges and adapt.
- Once you’re at the studienkolleg, you are treated as a student. I got to go to the same cafeterias as the actual university students, use the libraries and study rooms and see what was in store for me down the road. Take it as a gentle introduction to the system.
- It’s been told to me that foreign students who have gone to the studienkolleg in the past have had a 50% better chance of completing their bachelor education in Germany! Now, isn’t this a great thing? From talking to fellow students, they have agreed that the studienkolleg made the university seem easier, if not simply from getting their language skilled up to par.
The studienkolleg experience has been a positive one for me; don’t fret if you’re told you need to go there first!
A great FAQ about the studienkolleg can be found on the Mawista website (which is a name you might hear once you start, it’s the private health insurance a lot of the foreign students use while studying)