Alexa Code

Published on October 31, 2017 | Choosing a Career| Choosing a college
The cost of uncertainty and the benefits of self-discovery.


Uncertainty… About what? And Why?

Finding the right course of study also means looking for a field of education which forces students to work with a high level of intrinsic motivation. Keeping the excitement alive – is the way to succeed. But how do we know what attracts our attention and does so for the rest of our lifetime- or at least long enough to obtain a university degree?

In most parts of Europe at the age of only ten, kids (or rather their parents) have to choose the type of school to follow up after primary school. There is a huge range of possibilities. Some schools offer the opportunity to graduate with A levels while others are designed to learn a certain profession. About 80% of high school graduates decide to attend a university after their A levels.

But which one?

In Germany,  graduates can choose between 10,000 different branches or even more. And if they do not want to lose a year they have to apply early enough to their university of choice.

Hence, within their last stressful year in grammar school, they have to make their decision so that they may be permitted to start right after summer break with their studies. It seems to be really hard to find an appropriate and fulfilling field of study under such circumstances.

Wouldn’t you agree?

To make such an important decision within a short and even stressful period of time can put a lot of pressure on adolescence and cause uncertainty and a feeling of helplessness. This exact uncertainty costs money.  

So How Much Does This Uncertainty exactly cost the world?


Additionally youth unemployment is a major problem of the 21st century. Statistics provided by the National Center for Education Statistics show a clear correlation between the employment rate and the level of education. As illustrated in the graph below, the employment rate is much higher for absolvents with a degree.

Polytechnic: The fix to drop out rates?

The number of students who drop out of university seem to rise yearly and consequently youth unemployment and economic losses increase.

Because of the increase of polytechnics the dropout rate has decreased by a bit. According to a study (by DZHW, 2012) only 23% quit within the bachelor’s degree in polytechnics while in universities the number is 35%. As compared to universities, polytechnics accept only a limited number of students. Applicants undergo a strict acceptance process, including an on-topic test and most of the time also a personal meeting.

Polytechnic’s can be compared to a school, it has a fixed time table and compulsory attendance for most lectures. Additionally the syllabus is more focused on practical knowledge. The typical program of a polytechnic consists of a three year bachelors program and a two year master’s program. So the students would have a complete outlook of a certain subject upon receiving their degree. All these differences could explain the lower dropout rate when it comes to polytechnics. Even then 23% still quit during the bachelors program in a polytechnic. This can be attributed to the high demands on the students and also stress due to the fixed schedule.

College Woes?

But what leads to this high dropout rates in universities? Why do 1 out of 4 students quit their studies? Is it the lack of information, pressure, money or family issues? A lot of factors seem to influence this phenomenal. So let’s inspect these factors a little bit.

Due to polytechnic’s fixed time tables it is hard for students to pursue a student job. In contrast, about 50% of students work on the side while attending a university (Lena Kreiner, 2013, Spiegel online).

Students in universities get jobs for reasons ranging from money to independence.

Students might lose their interest in studying when they already have the possibility to earn money otherwise. Additionally a university is more flexible and impersonal. A student has to organise and compile their own lectures which are more theoretical cored than practical. Therefore, graduating and receiving a degree could seem more abstract, while in a polytechnic students know the exact end date and have a better idea of what to expect in their job.

Another huge factor is the wide range of courses which are offered in universities. The variety is enormous. Since the introduction of the bachelors and master’s program students today can choose between about 10,000 different branches in Germany. Especially the lack of clarification and time constitutes a problem. Students miss information on all these different possibilities and often end up regretting their decision. This leads to a dilemma. On one hand they do not want to just give up and try to force themselves to complete their studies. On the other hand, during stressful periods their gut feeling tells them just to quit. This dilemma often lasts far too long and leads to a great loss of time, talent and money (Lars Gaede, 2016, Hans- Werner Rückert, an acknowledged psychologist and specialist in studying dropout’s in Germany takes a vehement stand on this topic. He helps students to focus on the real problem- Is it the field of study which causes the problem or something else? Is there any solution for the problem? Have the students tried an alternative? Are they studying what they really want? All these questions should help students gain some clarity towards their decision. For some, however, to drop out seems to be the only right thing. But even finding out what does not work for somebody could lead to great success.

Isn’t this the point though? Finding out about one’s passion and building a life and career around it. It sounds a lot easier than it is. It involves a long process of self-discovery and also takes a lot of awareness, time and willpower. This would counteract the great dropout rate and would avoid economic losses and wastage of talent and time. Often failing is an important part of this process and is indeed essential. Hence isn’t it high time we helped our youth?

When in doubt…ask.

Factors That Affect a Students Study Habits

We can all agree that studying takes a lot of willpower and energy. Hence here are the major factors that affect a student study habits:-

  • Practical relevance and application of subject matters.
    Once a student gains perspectives and understanding they would be able to apply their knowledge. It also helps them to find interest and joy in a subjects matter. (Luisa Hommerich, 2016 Tagesspiegel).
  • Conflict of interests.
    What appeals to one need not appeal to all? A certain subject might not pique a student interest and hence he/she would not be inclined towards studying it.
  • The pressures of expectations.
    Meeting expectations too is a huge issue. Not only their own but also that of their parents’. Trying to prove themselves in an ever competing world can put a lot of pressure on students and can leave them completely dissatisfied. Therefore, it is indispensable that study related expectations are also in accordance with one’s own dreams and interests. Meeting these expectations can hence turn learning into a journey of joy and self-development.
  • Career prospects and income.
    For graduates, future career possibilities and income would also play a huge role.

How are these being tackled?

In many European countries university- fairs offer information about the substance matter and program for a huge range of different polytechnics and universities. They also inform the youth about the options and possibilities they have after finishing a certain program. Hence giving students clarity and insight and slightly reducing their burden.

In Germany an obligatory advice for pupils is discussed. Before attending the university, students would have to speak with experts in order to find out about their own interests and if a certain university is even appropriate (Swantje Unterberg, 2016,

Summing up, dropout rates in universities are far too high and cause wastage of money, time and talent. Students mostly quit because they do not have enough resilience or realize that the substance matter are not in line with their own interests and values. Therefore, young people should start very early with self-discovery in order to learn about their passion and what drives them. Do what you love and you’ll never work a single day.




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