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Germany’s ‘free’ college: Is worth it?

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Germany courtesy of Open Source Maps
Germany
courtesy of Open Source Maps

Last month, Lower Saxony became the last state in Germany to completely stop charging any public university tuition.

Yes that’s right. According to an article published by the Slate Group, all state-run universities in Germany are now free to attend.

You might be thinking how awesome this is for the Germans, but what about cash-strapped American college students?  Germany didn’t just stop charging tuition for the German students. The free college education is for international students as well.

Ready to learn German and relocate?  You might want to check into it further.

While it’s true that we are green with envy to see a country put importance on higher education for everyone, the Slate Group article points out there are several reasons that German universities either cost close to nothing or nothing at all.

The German college experience is very different from the American idea of college, and you should consider the differences before packing your bags.

There isn’t much campus life in Germany compared to what we have in the U.S. There are no luxuries to speak of, and the few dorms that exist are minimalistic by American standards. Most German students don’t live in dorms; they usually live with their parents until graduation.

Fraternities, clubs and other campus activities are few and far between. Universities are for learning, not to maintain a social life.

German students typically apply, test for and then are accepted into specific majors. They apply for engineering, law, etc. and take the required classes until they graduate. None of this ‘undecided’ business that many Americans go with.

We are also fortunate to have great guidance counselors to help us figure out which classes to take to make sure we graduate in a timely manner. German’s don’t have advisers. They are expected to know what their education requirements are and take the appropriate classes.

Class structure is also completely different. In Germany, students come and go from classes as they please. Professors aren’t expected to learn the names of their students, which is good considering that the class size can fluctuate up to several hundred students per course at any given time.

And there typically aren’t any assignments, just a test or a paper due at the end of the term. Some students don’t even register for classes until finals, if they register at all.

Finally, Germans may not pay tuition now, but they make up for it with the extreme taxes they pay. So the money has to come from somewhere, and one way or another, it ends up coming from the people who are getting their educations “free of charge.”