Once the desired study has been completed, the question naturally arises as to which university one should apply for. There are no general rules here, but a few preliminary considerations make it easier to proceed. In principle, orientation to a specific degree program should precede orientation to a university or study location.

The classical university

The first point of contact when looking for a place to study is often the classical university, often called full university. This is characterized by the fact that it completely covers the academic field. Anyone wishing to study medicine, veterinary medicine or law will have to orient themselves here. For other students, the wide range of local events can be very attractive, but it also offers the opportunity to “sniff” into other areas and thus to broaden your horizons. It should not be underestimated that many of these universities have a long tradition and enjoy a good reputation (also internationally).

But it should also be clear that these training centers are usually very large, there are some tens of thousands of students studying. One should therefore be prepared to get used to the mass operation and the associated anonymity at the beginning.

Colleges and universities

The main difference between universities and technical colleges lies in the specialization and subject offer. Universities of Applied Sciences are usually more practice-oriented and should prepare for a swift, smooth start to their careers. The range of universities, however, is more theoretically shaped. There is also a significant increase in research at universities, while universities of applied sciences are more strongly designed as educational institutions.

As far as the range of subjects is concerned, universities and technical colleges hardly differ in terms of technical and natural sciences. The situation is different for the other range of subjects. The classical subjects (philology, medicine, law, teaching) are still a domain of universities, however, if a study is aimed at preparing for a specific occupation, universities of applied sciences are often the better choice. The acceptance of the degrees by employers hardly differs. More important are the final grade, the exact degree program and, if necessary, the topic of the thesis.

An exception is the career in the academic enterprise: Anyone seeking a career in research is still in better hands at a university than at a university of applied sciences. Finally, it should be noted that colleges are generally much smaller and the whole operation is a little more manageable. For those who prefer a more “family” atmosphere, it is often better there.

Distance Learning

The distance learning program is a special case. Here you learn from home in self-study, the respective materials are sent (in digital form or even very old-fashioned by post). Oral examinations as well as exams generally take place near the residence in so-called examination centers. It is advantageous for a distance learning program that can be studied from the previous place of residence. Housing, relocation and related efforts can therefore be omitted. Also, a distance learning offers a much higher temporal flexibility than a classical study and is therefore well suited as a part-time study.

It should be noted, however, that this type of study requires a high degree of self-discipline and independent work. A distance learning course is particularly suitable for people who have already completed their first degree and who have a realistic assessment of their own work style and performance. The most well-known provider of distance learning courses is the Fernuniversität Hagen. Meanwhile, many other universities and colleges also offer this type of study for individual degree programs.

Private versus state colleges

In addition to the regular state colleges, there is a whole range of private universities. These advertise often with particularly good study conditions, ie small numbers of participants in the events, a reliable care and a very good facilities.

Private universities usually charge fees, some of them very high. So it should be checked exactly, if you can afford this for a complete study and wants. More attention should also be given to the question of whether generally recognized degrees are awarded at these universities. By no means everything that carries a sonorous name is actually helpful for later professional development. It is therefore important to ensure that you obtain a degree equivalent to the degrees of state universities.

Rankings of universities

An accessible and easy-to-use help is provided by the rankings of universities and technical colleges available on the internet (a ranking with a very good reputation is that of the weekly magazine Die Zeit.) The first clue should be that they operate according to very different standards they are well suited, but they should not be the deciding factor, as many consider elite universities to be considered.

Practical considerations

In addition to the reflections on the study itself, there are of course some practical considerations. In many cases, taking up a degree course also involves a change of residence, so some considerations should also be considered here.

1st place of residence

It is perfectly legitimate to combine the choice of university with the choice of an attractive place to live. Keep in mind, however, that in your life you may have the opportunity to change your place of residence more often, but the decision to go to a university or college is likely to “haunt” you for much longer.

2nd housing market

Inquire in time at the location of your desired university for the local situation in the housing market. First impressions offer the relevant real estate portals on the Internet. The respective Studentenwerke of the universities often provide information. These also provide places in the student dormitories, a possibility that should be considered especially in conurbations with problematic housing market.

Make the right choice!

The choice of the right university is a very complex matter and in this short text, of course, only a few suggestions were given. It is worth investing time and diligence in finding an appropriate training center. This may save a lot of excitement in the further course. To reassure, however, that the system of undergraduate and graduate students makes a change of university relatively easy, should have been made as a really unfortunate choice, this can also be corrected during the study.