Sending your child to study abroad might be a scary thing, but there is a reason why parents send their children to study abroad in Germany. Preparing your child to attend a university anywhere can feel like an overwhelming task, but especially so if you add in the extra hurdle of applying for a school in another country. So how should you and your child go about preparing to study abroad?
You may be asking yourself, “Is Germany a good place for studying abroad?” and the answer is a resounding “Yes!” In Germany, you will find many world-ranking universities, plus the cultural exposure of living in a country rich in history and culture. There are also incredibly low tuition fees, and in the case of public universities in Germany, there’s no tuition fee for international students at all.
In 2014, a regulation was passed that said that all international students who attend a public university in Germany would be free from paying normal tuition fees. These foreign students only have to pay a small fee per semester --which amounts to around €250 each semester-- to cover things like a student union fee and a public transportation ticket.
It’s so affordable for students here in the US to attend school in Germany, that even if you have to provide or at least prove you have all the funds up front (which we’ll discuss later), it’s still far more affordable than it would be to study stateside!
So what study abroad information for parents should you know? How do you get your child ready to attend college in Germany?
Pick a Major
There are so many universities in Germany, and they offer a wide range of majors. It’s best to prioritize at least an area of concentration in order for your child to narrow down their search to the universities that will be best-suited to their field of study.
This is also a good time for your child to come up with a list of things that they are looking for in a university, to narrow down the field to a select few, in order to decide where to apply.
Check Entry Requirements and Apply
As soon as your child picks a program, and finds colleges that fit those needs, it’s best to start finding out what the requirements are for that program right away. The college and the course will probably determine what the requirements are because, for the most part, each individual college sets its own admission and prerequisite requirements.
So what basic requirements will your child need, if they have future plans for studying abroad in Germany? They will need to provide at least the following information:
Grade certificates and academic records
Proof of language proficiency
Proof of financial resources
Proof of health insurance
Their resumé or CV
It may also be a good idea for them to prepare a letter explaining their motivation to study abroad, and collect relevant resources from a few influential people in their life as well. And then it’s time to apply!
Apply for a Residency Permit
Once your child is accepted into a university program, the next step is to apply for a residency permit.
US Citizens can travel to Germany for up to 90 days. Any longer though, and they have to apply for a temporary residency permit. This means that most likely, your kids need to apply for a visa.
Your child will need to apply for a temporary residence permit if they are planning to attend college in Germany. They will have to register their future German address (either an apartment they find online, or a dorm), and prove they have secured funds for the cost of living while they are in Germany. Once this is done, there’s paperwork and documentation to submit:
A valid passport
A certificate proving they have no criminal record
Proof of German health insurance
Proof of German language proficiency
Proof of financial resources
A copy of the admission acceptance letter from the German University
A medical certificate proving you have gone through specific medical checks
Plan for Accidentals & Logistics
If you are sending your child to study abroad, you have a lot of logistics to figure out. How will you and your child communicate while they are studying abroad? What kind of banking will they use-- and it is easy to use internationally when your student comes home for a visit?
It’s a good idea to start planning these items out well in advance, so you aren’t caught by surprise. Now is the time to start ironing out the details as well, so that there is a plan in place when your child makes the move. Things to consider?
Setting up a phone and a phone plan with affordable international capabilities
Opening a bank account or planning for international banking
Finding a safe, secure place to live in a friendly neighborhood
Planning for transportation-- how will your student get to and from school?
How will your child obtain prescriptions and daily medications abroad?
Research health and travel insurance plans that will cover your child abroad.
Decide which necessity items your child will pack and take to Germany, and which they will purchase once they arrive.
Prepare Them Emotionally
Your child may be fiercely independent-- they wouldn’t be considering attending college in Germany if they weren’t. If you are sending your child to study abroad, it’s a good idea to plan for an emotional support system while they are studying in Germany.
So when you are preparing your child for university, how are they planning to stay connected to you, and to other family members? Additionally, maybe they should consider finding a therapist or counselor who they can speak with via video chat or on the phone. It’s a good idea to ensure they have all the support systems in place so they feel taken care of emotionally, and so they are in a good place to get the most out of their education.
It’s also wise for your child to have a hard copy of their medical records to bring with them, and for them to learn vocabulary associated with basic medical terminology (how they are feeling, for example) and vocabulary associated with how they are feeling, so that if they need to speak to someone about their emotions, they are equipped to do so.
Start Learning the Language Early
Your kids will feel well-equipped to study abroad in Germany if they have a strong command of the German language. So if this is something you think is a possibility, you can help your student out by bolstering their German-language skills from an early age.
It’s been proven (for a number of reasons) that it’s easier to start learning a foreign language in early childhood. Our brains are more elastic and our sentence structures are simpler, which means that grasping a language like German at a beginning level is easier. Future plans to study abroad are easier when your student starts to master the language as soon as possible.
Another way to help your kids prepare to study abroad in Germany is to develop and encourage their German reading skills. So much of university life is reading and studying. Your child will be better set up for success if their reading skills are strong, and they will feel more secure in their decision to study abroad if the language isn’t a challenge for them.
Kinderbooks has a huge array of German books available to grow your child’s reading skills, from early readers to advanced readers, and even books written at an adult level as well. You can also find educational resources like school books as well.
Sending your child doesn’t have to be scary if they are prepared. Help your student get prepared for college in Germany by giving them the gift of mastery of reading in German.