Studies: Start your studies: “Now is the time to get on your knees”

The start of your studies in October is a leap into a new life. Four young people talk about their expectations, fears and worries.

Corona, energy crisis, rising prices and rents – with many worries and uncertainties, almost 100,000 first semester students start their studies in NRW in October. They don’t always feel well prepared for university from school, some already have clear professional goals, others keep their paths open. But everyone is worried about one question: Will I have enough money for my studies? We spoke to four young people before they started their new lives.

Marie Wilmers (20)

I come from Langenberg in the district of Gütersloh, a small town with around 9,000 inhabitants in East Westphalia. I’ll be studying psychology in Essen from October. I’m the first in my family to start college, so this is really new territory for me. I had to get all the information myself. At first I didn’t know exactly what to choose, but a student advisor helped me and asked me what I was really interested in. He also pointed out to me that there is a campus scouting project at the University of Duisburg-Essen, in which freshmen are assigned a student from a higher semester. I was also able to get a taste of lectures and events online and then I realized: This is the right thing for me.

Did the school prepare me well for university? I have to answer that with a clear yes. School gives us the basics, we learn how to learn. But studying requires a much higher degree of independence and initiative, and that’s where school reaches its limits. This is not enough for preparing for a course and looking for a subject. There simply isn’t enough time for that. I have already found a small apartment in Essen, which I will move into in October.

I wonder if I can finance this

My parents support me with the financing, without their help it would not have been possible. I have also applied for a student loan and applied for a scholarship, but I don’t know if it will work yet. I can also imagine earning money on the side. Nevertheless, I am of course worried about whether I can finance all of this. Studying isn’t cheap, and rents and energy prices are rising like crazy. I can’t really anticipate what’s to come.

In my opinion, the students are not sufficiently supported by politicians. A one-time payment of 200 euros isn’t much, but it’s better than nothing. During the Corona period, the students felt ignored. Many had difficulties to finance their studies and some then gave up their studies. That shouldn’t be the case in a welfare state like Germany. I hope that politicians will react now and the students will stick together.

I wish that the university would not have to go back to distance learning because of Corona or the energy crisis. I experienced a lot of distance learning in my final years of school. That wasn’t always easy. But I had friends and a network. I have to build that up at university. But if everything happens online first, it is hardly possible to get to know new people on site. I’m looking forward to the Ruhr area and have already received a lot of tips on what you can do here – totally exciting. I believe that there are still a few challenges ahead of me, but I am optimistic about the start of my studies.

Sarah Thißen (19)

I live in Rheurdt, a small town in the district of Kleve. In October I will start studying educational sciences at the University of Duisburg-Essen. Raising children fascinates me and I knew from the age of 13 or 14 that I wanted to do it. My biggest wish is to later work in a youth welfare office in the adoption agency. I like the prospect of helping children in need. I used to have many friends from difficult families.

School didn’t prepare me very well for college. What do I need at the university, how do I apply, how does it work, my sister explained that to me. Because there was no advanced course in educational science at my high school, I switched from high school to a vocational college in the ninth grade. Many classmates there were significantly older than me and I learned to find my way around on my own. I had to work a lot on my own. This will definitely help me in my studies.

A little financial help would be good

Financing my studies will not be easy. My parents only pay the semester fee of 334 euros. That’s about 50 euros a month. I have to pay for the rest myself. I don’t get student loans. So I still live at home and need at least an hour and a half to get to the university.

An apartment close to the university would of course be ideal, but that’s not possible at the moment. I also want to look for a part-time job to relieve my parents. Of course I’m worried about rising prices and inflation, I’m not earning anything yet. It’s not easy for my parents either, we have to cancel a few things now. Fortunately, my grandparents sometimes slip me something.

I think there should be more support for students in general. A little financial help for students who don’t live at home would be good. I volunteered for a year at the kindergarten, which was exhausting. Now I’m even more looking forward to starting my studies.

Paul Albert (20)

I currently still live in Münster because I studied business administration there for two semesters after graduating from high school. But that wasn’t for me, business administration didn’t excite me. There’s a lot of math! And I don’t find the job prospects that interesting either. I am now starting my German studies and politics course in Essen to become a teacher. These are secure job prospects and the subjects interest me. I’m not sure yet whether I’ll become a teacher, since I have other options with my studies.

Studying is something completely different from school, you have to work a lot more on your own. The exams at the university are always at the end of a semester and then the material of the entire semester is queried at once. You have to prepare for it in a completely different way than for exams at school. That surprises many in the first semester.

Those who are in need should get more money

I would not wish for a complete distance learning like in the Corona period during my studies. But I think hybrid events are good, i.e. when a lecture takes place online and at the same time in attendance. If you are ill, you can follow the lecture from home. You can organize your studies more flexibly. For example, when lectures are at 8 a.m., I don’t think the hybrid system is bad.

My parents support me financially, and I work as a tennis coach on the side. But of course I’m also very worried about the rising prices. I think 200 euros as a one-off payment for students is good. But that doesn’t get you very far. Personally, I don’t need the support, but instead of paying out 200 euros to everyone, those who need it should get more money. I think that’s fairer.

I am really looking forward to starting my studies. I hope I have now found a course that inspires and interests me. Because if you enjoy the material, learning is much easier.

Sindano Michael Franz (25)

I’m currently doing an apprenticeship as an electronics technician at ThyssenKrupp Steel in Duisburg. I am in the second year of my apprenticeship and will start my studies in electrical engineering and information technology in October. When I mentioned to the company that I wanted to start studying, they offered me to be accepted into the young potential program if I had the right performance, so that I could work as an engineer straight away after my studies.

Due to the additional shortening of the training, I will probably do my apprenticeship certificate in the third semester. For me, this means that I work eight hours a day and study at the same time. That’s ideal for me, because I get my salary while I’m studying and my company training continues. I’m doing well there, after work I’m still studying. My day usually has 12 to 14 hours. I try to go to college as well prepared as possible.

The school has prepared me quite well for the apprenticeship. I did my Abitur at the vocational college in Gelsenkirchen with a focus on engineering and math. That was a good basis.

My company continues to pay the salary

Because of the rising prices and rents, I’m already worried. I live with my girlfriend in Duisburg, she receives student loans and works part-time, so we can’t save a lot. Sometimes we have to go to our savings. We actually want to build up assets for the future.

In view of the rising prices and inflation, I would wish for more support for the students from politics. And the university should also become more flexible. I’m a part-time student because I’m also doing vocational training. I need the opportunity to get teaching materials online as well.

I don’t think the double burden is that bad. I like to learn and I like to solve problems. But I can’t think of a wild student life. I’m already 25 years old, most first-year students are much younger. I don’t have time for parties. My employer can offer me the prospect of a secure job, I don’t want to jeopardize that. Now is the time to kneel in.

More articles from this category can be found here: State politics

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