Almost 90% of the people I see applying to their Masters’s programs in Germany seem to have some very common attributes. They spend an enormous amount of time finding the right university with the right program with the most amazing job opportunities after graduation. In this search of their “Perfect” university, they will go around asking for help on different forums, from people who are already studying in Germany and hoping to somehow land on this one perfect university where everything will be perfect and they will graduate with a 6 figure job in hand. I bet you know someone with this mindset. I call such people “fantasizers” because they will waste their own time and other people’s time without getting anything valuable done.
This guide is going to provide you with all the necessary information you need to not be a fantasizer and get into your desired program while eliminating all the help you seek from everyone. Disclaimer: This post does not provide a step-by-step process to get admission but rather an overview of the common mistakes you don’t want to be making.
Hack #1 – Stop relying on help. Ask only when you NEED it.
Listen, help is nice but that should not be the sole source of information on which you rely. It is simply not healthy. Asking on Facebook groups and forums something like this “Guys if you can help in listing good public German universities offering free education in masters in x major or y major” just implies that you have no impulse for self-research. The entire world of information is literally in your hands and instead, you chose to post on a Facebook group where chances are, you will get no concrete answer. If you are not willing to put in any effort and just dreaming of getting all your information through a very imprecise source, how do you expect a university to offer you admission?
A lot of prospective students would just sit down waiting for people to provide them with all the necessary information (which university, how to apply, which courses etc) before they can finally start the process. This causes two problems:
You tell yourself that you would start immediately once you have ALL the information. This is just another way of telling yourself that you would never start. This is a classic form of procrastination. Don’t do it. Sit down, do your research, and stop relying on people.
- Lack of motivation
When you rely on other people to provide you with the information and you do not end up getting that, you feel disappointed, frustrated, and de-motivated. Literally, all the information you would possibly need for your admission process is just one tap away on your phone. Use the internet wisely.
So, instead of going on Facebook and forums relying on people for information, post your questions on the Google search bar and I promise you that 99% of your questions will be answered.
Hack #2 – Quality over Quantity
Have you ever been with one of those people who proudly tell you they got rejected from 90 places and you’re just standing there wondering like “umm, did you not stop after 10 to see what you’re doing wrong?” The problem is these people think that they put in massive effort to apply to such a huge number of places so they feel entitled to blame the university and other factors just so they can have some satisfaction with themselves.
The better way to go about it is to first look at the requirements in detail and ask yourself, without any ambiguity, if you do or do not fulfill the requirements. If you do, proceed with the application but if you do not, it is still okay to apply but then it gives you no reason to be disappointed if you don’t get in. A lot of people suffer from this problem, they would apply blindly, and later when they get a rejection, they would realize that their CGPA is way lower than the minimum requirement for the program. In a very rare case where you were able to massively overshadow your low CGPA with an outstanding achievement e.g. founder of a start-up; only then would I recommend you to apply to universities where you do not meet the minimum requirements. Otherwise, stick to the places where you would stand out and write a killer application for that particular University.
Hack #3 – Make it Personal
Once you realize you do fulfill the requirements, start writing a personalized letter of motivation (LOM). One mistake that most of the prospective students do is, they would make one standardized LOM and send it to all the universities they want to apply to with very little context. Chances are, if your LOM is not very well written, you will not receive a good response from any of the places you applied to. On the other hand, a personalized application will do the following:
- Allow you to research more about the university itself. A lot of the time, we do very little research about the university itself and we just apply based on the name of the program because it sounds exciting. Read more in-depth about the course, read about the university culture, read about the city; everything that can help you make it more personal to the university. Furthermore, researching more about the university and its courses might allow you to make a better concrete decision of whether you really want to attend this university or not. Most importantly, your information and excitement are going to reflect in your LOM only when you have enough knowledge about the university itself.
- Give you more internal satisfaction. Once you apply via personalized application to a university, I promise that you will be satisfied and a lot more hopeful about admission. You will easily feel the difference between your previously cold, standard application vs your new personalized killer application. Not only will this allow you to be more confident but you will be more mindful about the effort you actually did put in and resort to Hack #2. Learn the depth of the process and cater to it.
In 2018, I applied for my internships through an extremely personalized application, and with no experience in pharmacology, I still ended up landing an internship at Monash University in Australia (World’s #3 ranked University in Pharmacology).
Hack #4 – Don’t Think Too Far. Keep it Simple
We want everything to be perfectly planned out for us for the next 10 years so that all we have to do is just walk on the planned path and effortlessly achieve success, right? What we do not realize is that whatever we plan before starting our studies; by the end of it, 90% of the variables have changed. When I started out my degree in Biochemistry & Cell Biology, I thought I would continue to do a Master’s degree and then get a job in the industry but in my second year, I took on International Business as a Minor and ended up securing a Business Development position at a Biotech company. My point is that things change; they are not going to be static. When applying for Masters, a lot of people would consider factors that are completely out of the scope of what they are going to be doing in the next two years. I find questions like “What are the job opportunities for x major?” or “Which city is better in terms of internship placements?” etc very often and my answer to all of these is “It does not matter right now”. The rules below will explain why:
- Focus on the right things. Overthinking job opportunities, city location, and course selection only further complicate this process. There are going to be countless job opportunities, regardless of which city you are in; you can always move to another city if you find a job that is amazing. Trust yourself, you are going to figure stuff out in the future but right now, there is no point in building this complex ball of unnecessary thoughts in your head. Focus on just applying to the course that you think will excite you.
- No matter what you study, you are always going to find opportunities. I have seen students getting an extremely well-paid job with majors like Environmental Sciences and have also seen students with Computer Science majors being unemployed. It is true that your “opportunity” increases when you go into a technical major like engineering but if you do not have the skillset required for the job, you will not get it. If you do have a skill, regardless of your major and it is a skill that someone else needs, you’re getting hired. Believe in yourself.
Hack #5 – Separate yourself from the Herd
This is one of my personal favorites and it is really simple. If the majority of people are considering studying in a certain city because it has amazing job opportunities, instead of joining the majority in a fight to fill those vacancies, you have higher chances of getting a job if you move to a city where there would be less competition. The same applies to study courses; if 100 people are doing one major because they think it will land them a secure job, don’t be the 101st person and instead go the route which fewer people are taking. It’s a very basic probability. In my major, 95% of the students had a strict research-oriented course structure because they thought it is going to get them a while I was studying Business Administration as a minor alongside my major, studying computer science courses, learning to program, and working as a content manager for my Professor. I was the only one walking that path; create your own path.
Hack #6 – Patience
We live in a world of instant gratification these days where it is really easy to get impatient almost instantly. It is important to know that the process of decision making to pursue your education in Germany to actually starting your studies is a long and tedious process. This is not going to happen overnight; the waiting times for the visa appointment are increasing with time and the only valuable thing you can do is hold on tight and wait. Asking for ways to get a faster appointment is not going to actually affect your appointment date. Sit back, relax, and know that it is all going to work out very soon.
This is it!
You now know the 6 Hacks that most people choose to ignore. Start applying them and work your way slowly to a new and better-thinking process that is going to help you throughout life is not only in this case but in most aspects of your life.