Student Support: Just Do It (

9,200 students are currently being sponsored by the German National Academic Foundation.

9,200 students are currently being sponsored by the German National Academic Foundation.

Photo: Unsplash / Red

It took Hannah Geller a little while to recover. This is probably due to the fact that he does not know much about talented companies, foundations and scholarships. None of this was ever discussed at his school. For which he repents.

After all, the reason for his reluctance to apply for the scholarship was self-doubt which plagued him. Coming back in 2018. “One of my main concerns was that I thought scholarships were only for the smartest and I didn’t count myself among them,” said the 23-year-old. So he thought. And then. For the day. More because he fought the path that would ideally take him further. He had to nominate himself for the scholarship. There was no other way for him. And it has taken a lot from him. Ironically, the famous German National Academic Foundation is the largest organization in Germany to promote such talented students.

It was strange to even consider applying for a scholarship, he said, “because I felt a kind of futility.” Today, of course, he looks at things differently, feeling more comfortable. “But in the previous view, I have to say: of course it’s nonsense.”

Today, she could form a sentence like this because she did it: After graduating from Weimar High School in 2016, she is now studying Human Medicine at Jenner Friedrich Schiller University – and a student at Studienstiftung.

In fact, Hannah Geller only got an insight into the world of foundation and donations through a good friend of her mother. The man, he says, always spoke enthusiastically about the non-material support he enjoyed as a scholarship holder. But otherwise, especially at the beginning of her studies in Zena, there was hardly anyone who told her about the scholarship program and everything related to it. Especially not at school.

Hannah Geler researched human medicine in Zena.

Hannah Geler researched human medicine in Zena.

Photo: Private

This was not only a problem for him, but also for many of his classmates at the time, Geller said. “In hindsight, I can think of a lot of people in my class who are sure to be good candidates for StudentTiftung.”

There are three different ways to get such funding: First, young people can be nominated by their school for admission to the foundation. Second, lecturers in examination offices or universities may recommend students for admission. And third, young men and women can apply for admission to the foundation themselves if they study full-time in the first or second semester, regardless of the subject. Only students of artistic and design subjects cannot come to the foundation through this third way because a special nomination and selection process has been created for them.

Self-applications are especially important for young people in the East German Federal State because the Foundation’s experience has long shown that schools between the Baltic Sea and the Thuringian forest use significantly less of their right to nominate than schools. In West Germany. Annette Julius, general secretary of Studienstiftung, mentioned the issue in September last year. At that time, a study was presented at the University of Jena, which showed that East German students were numerically disadvantaged compared to their West German counterparts when it came to scholarships from various organizations to promote talented students.

According to the survey, there are many reasons for this imbalance, one of which can be found in school. “Although about 50 percent of West German schools submit proposals to us in one year, in East Germany it is only close to 25 percent,” Julius said. This is also due to the fact that teachers in the East have less experience in grants than in West Germany.

However, if you apply for the scholarship yourself, you can easily fill this gap. Such self-offerings need not be feared; Isa Lange, a spokeswoman for the foundation, said Hannah Geller could confirm this based on her own experience. If only the two-stage selection process does not rely on grades or expert knowledge and it is quite easy to get started. Once he overcame himself and decided. At first you just need to register on the internet and thus express your interest in being admitted to the foundation.

Instead of final and test results, the foundation attaches great importance to the social commitment of its scholarship holders, Lange said. “We are looking for people whose special talents and skills can contribute to others and from whom we can expect special long-term performance in serving the general public.” Or, in Geller’s words: “It’s not about quotas or grades, but about how you behave socially, what you’re interested in outside of your studies.« For him, these are, for example, art, photography and language. “

Anyone who registers first takes a computer-aided test. It tests skills that the Foundation believes are important for successfully completing a course of study. How well someone does is tested at the explanation table, for example, or in their study and career plans. Anyone who achieves a certain number of points in this test is invited to a selection seminar. According to Lange, three to four self-applicants out of ten do it regularly.

The seminar was then private. There, applicants must demonstrate in individual interviews and group discussions that they are intelligent, that they are genuinely interested in interacting with others, that they are curious, and that they have the power to deal with issues that they did not find before. Foreign. Undoubtedly, this is also an obstacle. But not insurmountable. “Overall, the acceptance probability of first-year students has averaged about 25 percent over the past few years,” Lange explained, “whether it’s self-application or school advice.”

For Geller, the selection process means little pressure, on the contrary, he actually enjoyed it. He likes to experiment like a computer anyway, he says. He already knew when he did a demo version of the exam on the internet while preparing for the exam. It also helped to overcome the initial self-doubt.

Since becoming a Scholarship Holder, Geller has enjoyed a variety of seminars and courses through the Foundation that he can attend. Shortly before the Corona epidemic began, for example, Munster had one about disease and industry. In this way, Geller says, he can think outside the box of medicine, that is, he can do something that he thinks is abundant. It is clear to him that he wants to finish his studies and work as a doctor. Whether in nuclear medicine or psychiatry, he is still hesitant. But his interest in things outside of medicine is so great that he is now studying another subject at the University of Zena: Art History.

Of course, financial aid makes things easier. “I don’t need it,” he says. “It simply came to our notice then. I am very grateful for that. “

Despite the successful application for the scholarship, the young woman again had to overcome her obstacles. A few months after being accepted into the foundation, he had to apply for an extension of his scholarship. “This time I had to ask someone to write to me about how great a student I am,” he says. “It was harder than applying for myself.” He had to submit two letters of recommendation from the university teachers. But in the end, he managed to get over it, and he did.

Self-doubt – no matter what part of your study – is obviously not something that should deter young people from applying to other organizations to promote StudentStfting or talented students. This is also supported by a study cited by Lange, according to which many prospective educators in the East and West stated that they initially had reservations about applying to StudentStftung. According to the survey, this applies to about 31 percent of East German and 38 percent of West German scholarship holders. “We interpret these differences as an indication that young people who have doubts about their suitability for StudentStefting experience more encouragement – for example from parents or teachers – to apply to StudentSteftung in West Germany than in East Germany despite these doubts. For. ” Long says.

Whether East or West, young or old, doctor or historian: Hannah Geller’s way to scholarship shows that it’s worth overcoming your doubts – and just trying.

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