If the preparatory college is only taught in German

Studienkollegs - the key to studying in Germany

Many young people dream of studying in Germany. However, studying at a German university requires some prior knowledge - and not just in German. That is why preparatory colleges prepare for it.

When 18-year-old Alissa from Peru thinks of her early days at the preparatory college in Köthen, she is still enthusiastic. “I immediately felt at home in class,” she says. “The teachers were all nice and I made friends quickly.” Darya from Kazakhstan, also 18, likes her stay. She attends the preparatory college in Darmstadt. "I not only got to know Germany, but also students from all over the world," she says. At the preparatory colleges at German universities, it's not only sociable, it's also hard work. Because the preparatory colleges are intended to close knowledge gaps that may exist between foreign school knowledge and the requirements of German universities.

Alissa's seminar group | © Studienkolleg Sachsen-Anhalt Köthen
Alissa, how many students are in your class and where are they from?Darya, how do you get in touch with others?

A bridge to study

Foreign applicants who do not come from an EU country and have a school leaving certificate that is not recognized as a university entrance qualification must attend a preparatory college. German is also taught at preparatory colleges, but language skills are not in the foreground.

“Most of the applicants do not have the specialist qualifications to study in Germany,” explains Jörg Drenkelfort, career and study advisor at the Central Office for Schools Abroad (ZfA), “for example special knowledge in physics, chemistry or other subjects. “To convey this is the main task of the preparatory college. The courses in the preparatory colleges usually last two semesters. Depending on what the young people would like to study later, they choose one of four focal points: the M course prepares them for a medical, biology or pharmacy degree, the T course for mathematical, scientific or technical courses, the W course prepares them for a course in medicine, biology or pharmacy the economics and the G course on humanities. At some preparatory colleges, the G course is also called G / S course or S course and then emphasizes preparation for the linguistic subjects.

Jörg Drenkelfort | © private

“In addition to technical knowledge, work techniques that are important for studying are also taught,” says Jörg Drenkelfort from the ZfA. He knows from experience that the time at a preparatory college makes it easier to arrive in Germany and make the transition to studies, especially since applicants from abroad are usually very young. "A preparatory college with the fixed classes and the school-based teaching method is a very good option," he explains. "The teachers are permanent contact persons and also help with problems with rent or the bank account." The security and supervision that comes with it are also appreciated by the parents of the 17- or 18-year-olds, says Drenkelfort. In addition, a preparatory college gives a first impression of what is expected in the course. "So you can think again whether the envisaged course is the right thing for you at all."

Studienkolleg in beautiful little Koethen

Alissa from Peru already knows that she would like to study business administration. At the preparatory college of the Anhalt University of Applied Sciences in Köthen, she attends the W course in the second semester. It has five subjects: German, English, business and economics, computer science and mathematics. She finds the business subjects the most difficult. “We need vocabulary that I didn't learn in school,” she reports. "Many terms are business German and I have to look them up again at home and work out what they mean exactly." In everyday life, however, she gets along very well with her German. She is enthusiastic about her life in Koethen. “It's a nice little town,” she says. “No matter where I have to go: I can run or ride my bike. In my hometown Lima, we always have to drive, including to school. ”After classes in December and January were only held online due to the Covid 19 pandemic, Alissa now has face-to-face classes again - and is very happy about it. Because: Each university decides for itself whether it will only be taught online or continue to be taught in classrooms during the pandemic.

What does an ordinary day of study look like for you?
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What would you advise others who want to come to Germany for a preparatory college?
Alissa | © private

First: Visa and entrance test

There are state preparatory colleges in almost all German federal states. Your visit is free. However, you have to pass an entrance test first. To register for it, you need a B1 or B2 language certificate. The requirements of the entrance tests and preparatory courses can differ in the individual federal states. All preparatory colleges have one thing in common: They last two semesters and at the end all students take the so-called assessment test (FSP). Those who pass it can study at a university anywhere in Germany.

At most preparatory colleges, the entrance tests are twice a year, in spring and autumn, just before classes begin. It is important to apply for a visa in good time. For this you need, among other things, a confirmation of the entrance test at a preparatory college and proof of a blocked account with 10,332 euros (as of March 2021). This is supposed to finance the living for one year.

DSD study and work ticket

In order to provide students from DSD schools with a smooth transition to a preparatory college, the ZfA has set up the “DSD study and professional ticket” program especially for them. The young people are already advised and looked after in their home country and later supported by alumni at the preparatory courses. "Thanks to the close cooperation with nine state preparatory colleges, our students can take the entrance tests in their home countries at the DSD schools six months earlier," says Jörg Drenkelfort. That means that they would have their commitments as early as April. "We also support them in applying for the visa, which they usually receive within a few days."

Darya | © private

Darya was at a DSD school in Kazakhstan and really appreciated this advice and support. She is now attending the T-course in the second semester at the preparatory college at TU Darmstadt. She applied to preparatory colleges in Leipzig, Berlin and Darmstadt - and decided on the latter. “I've wanted to come here since ninth grade,” she emphasizes. "TU Darmstadt has a very good reputation in Kazakhstan." She does not yet know exactly what she would like to study. “Probably IT,” she says. “My interest in this only developed in the preparatory college.” Due to the corona pandemic, your classes are currently taking place online - and have been for months. In September, however, she still had classroom teaching for a few weeks. She was particularly impressed by the early days. “I was surprised at how well the teachers dealt with us,” she says. "Every question was answered, no matter how difficult it was." That makes it much easier for her to understand even difficult material. Even so, after class and homework, she still spends about two to three hours studying each day. “When there are exams, there are more too,” she says. But that also has to do with her personality. “I can't stand it when I don't understand something. So I always try to close all the gaps. ”On weekends, however, she also tries to relax - at least on one day.

How does your day at the preparatory college look like?What tips would you have for others who want to do the preparatory college?


Katja Hanke works as a freelance journalist in Berlin.