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  • Writer's pictureJacob Tong

Why Germany?

When considering German universities, many students and families are reluctant to consider them as valid choices. Yes, most German undergraduate programs are in German. It is also true that most German universities are not as decorated as the IVY schools. However, I believe, that getting an undergraduate degree in a German public university might be the better, if not the best, choice for many middle-class families worldwide.


In most German states (Bundesländern), except for Baden-Württemberg and Bayern, public universities do not charge tuition fees. Instead, a semester fee (ranging from 200 to 400 Euros per semester) is levied to cover administrative and regional transportation costs. Consequently, enrolled students in Germany can access all regional public transportation services, except the ICE high-speed trains.

Unlike many colleges in the United States, living in university-subsidized housing is not obligatory. The average cost of university-subsidized housing ranges from 300 to 500 Euros per month. Nevertheless, many students choose to reside in shared flats, which might entail higher costs depending on the university's location. In cities like Munich, Berlin, and Frankfurt, housing expenses are typically elevated.

During my studies in Germany in 2020, my average monthly expenses totaled 1200 Euros, covering all essential needs.


Although the majority of undergraduate programs in Germany are conducted in German, many German public universities offer programs in English, particularly in STEM, business, and international studies.

However, living in Germany without proficiency in German can pose challenges, except in Berlin. Picture yourself at a party or social gathering where everyone converses in German, and you find yourself needing to initiate conversations in English. Yeah, I've been there, and it wasn't enjoyable.

If you're contemplating studying in Germany while simultaneously learning German, it will require time and determination. Nevertheless, I highly recommend it to everyone. Just imagine yourself conversing fluently in German with a bachelor's degree three years after making this significant commitment. Isn't that exciting? Envision the multitude of career opportunities that will become available to you, both domestically and internationally!

Quality and Career Perspectives:

Germans are renowned for their efficiency and practicality, traits that are reflected in their academic system. Most university programs in Germany are highly career-oriented. Throughout their studies, students are often required to undertake various internships as part of their academic curriculum. This aspect proves invaluable for their future job searches.

While most undergraduate majors typically last three years, many students in Germany opt to extend their enrollment since no tuition fees are charged for such extensions.

In contrast to liberal arts colleges in the US, German public universities offer less flexibility in terms of major selection and modification. Students are required to choose their majors at the time of university application. Therefore, it is advisable to have a clear idea of the field you wish to study before applying.

Why not America or the UK:

When it comes to assessing the quality of education, many students and families in East Asia and the US often regard rankings as the gold standard. However, I couldn't disagree more with this. Growing up in an Asian community, the aspiration to attend prestigious institutions such as Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Cambridge, or Oxford is ubiquitous. But, is it truly worth the exorbitant cost?

Reflecting on my own experience, I evaluate university programs by considering several key questions. What is the overall college experience like? How will my college education translate into my job search or entrepreneurial endeavors? How much financial investment and time commitment are required? For me, neither the Ivy League schools nor the elite universities in the UK emerge as the best options for most students, especially when considering the substantial financial burden they entail.

Imagine if you could acquire the same level of knowledge and expertise in your field without incurring any tuition fees. Would you still be willing to pay $80K for a prestigious college degree from an Ivy League institution? Some might argue that such a degree could lead to better job prospects or a more promising career trajectory. However, what if, in addition to your professional qualifications, you could also speak German fluently and boast international experience gained from studying abroad in Europe? Would you still prioritize the allure of a diploma from Harvard or Yale?


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