Once you have finished your Abitur the world lies at your feet: time to get started! But where do you want to go? What do you want to do next? What do you want to study? These are not easy decisions to make in this jungle of 1000 possibilities.
According to a study by the CHE (Center for Higher Education Development), there are approximately half a million new students each year. School leavers have to make important life choices, and nowadays there is so much choice that it is easy to feel overwhelmed. How is it possible to even know what you want to study?
And even when you have finally decided, you might still be faced with the problem that a number of different study programs interest you. If this is the case, it’s time to weigh up the facts. Think about what would be the most fun, and what study programs offer the best prospects for the future?
Or you might have to think about whether your grades are sufficient. Many study programs have specific admission requirements that it is not easy to get around. But if you don’t meet the demands then you need to be patient: there is always the clearing process.
How to choose the right subject
- Self reflection: First you have to decide what your strengths and weaknesses are. Even at school you know which subjects you like and which ones you don’t. What are you interested in? What do you find fun? What are you good at? Just answering these simple questions might make it possible for you to eliminate certain subjects. Then it’s a good idea to find out what your friends and family think about your goals and your dream study program. They know you and their opinions are just as important as what you think about yourself.
- Seek advice: The Student Counselling Center at the University of Stuttgart is not only there to give advice during your studies but also BEFORE. The center can help you to choose the right study program – no one’s got more experience in this area than they do. They can help you choose the subject best suited to you. And if your chosen study program turns out not to be the one for you, they can also help you further. Their goal is not to ‘convince’ you to study at the University of Stuttgart. If a subject or apprenticeship that is not offered at the University of Stuttgart is the right one for you they will help and support you nonetheless.
- Practical experience: We can profit from others’ experiences. It can be helpful to ask an alumnus about their experiences and what he or she would do differently if they could start over.
- Admission requirements: Most study programs have specific admission requirements (average grade, internships, etc.). These requirements might mean that you can already eliminate some subjects, which can save you time when you’re writing your applications. Or what if you get accepted in a city other than the one you live in? Would you be prepared to move? These are things you need to think about beforehand.
- Research: There are a huge amount of study programs on offer. There are lots of specialized subjects and new ones are introduced every semester. If you look at the relevant study program profiles, it is possible to see what they focus on. You can find an overview of the study programs on offer at the University of Stuttgart here. Anyone who wants to find out more can also visit an education fair.
Finding inspiration abroad
For anyone who can’t make up their mind, it might be a good idea to take some time out after finishing school to go traveling abroad. There are lots of different opportunities for anyone wishing to do this, such as Work&Travel, working as an au pair or doing voluntary work. This might help you to discover more about yourself and find out exactly what you want.
Finding a study program that suits you is not always easy. Not everyone knows right away what they want to study. The study program you chose has a big influence on your future and no one finds it easy to make such a big decision. That’s why I would recommend that you get some professional advice, or at least gather a few different opinions. You could visit the Agentur für Arbeit or get some advice from the Student Counselling Center at the Uni Stuttgart.