University Glossary
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Enrollment marks the official start of studies and is a decisive step on the path to an academic career. It is more than just formal enrollment; it symbolizes acceptance into the academic community of a college or university. This article guides you through the enrollment process, explains the required steps and documents, and highlights the significance of this important milestone.

What does enrollment mean?

Enrollment, a term that has its origins in the Latin "matriculare", means something like "to enter on a list". In an academic context, enrollment refers to the formal act by which a person is officially accepted into the student body of a college or university after successful application and admission. This process is a decisive transition from an applicant to a fully-fledged member of the academic community and marks the beginning of an academic career and everyday student life.

Enrollment is more than an administrative formality; it is a ritualistic step that seals affiliation with an educational institution and gives students access to a wealth of resources, opportunities and rights. Upon enrollment, students not only receive their matriculation number, which accompanies them throughout their studies, but also their student ID card, which serves as a key to libraries, laboratories, computer rooms and other university facilities.

Enrollment is also associated with certain obligations, such as compliance with study and examination regulations, regular re-registration for each subsequent semester and the payment of semester fees, which often include the semester ticket for local public transport.

The importance of enrollment also extends to social integration into university life. It enables students to take part in events, workshops and other activities, get involved in student councils and other student committees and build up a network with fellow students, lecturers and subject experts.

Overall, enrollment is a symbolic and practical step into the world of academic education, opening up a variety of opportunities for students and establishing them as active participants in the educational process. It lays the foundation for the student's studies, personal development and professional future.


The enrollment process

The enrollment process is a multi-step procedure that ranges from the successful application for a study place to the official acceptance as a student at a college or university. This process can vary depending on the educational institution, but usually follows these basic steps:

  1. Application and admission: it all starts with the application for a study place. Once the application documents have been submitted, the university reviews them and, if the criteria are met, grants admission to the desired degree program.
  2. Acceptance of the study place: After receiving the letter of admission, applicants usually have to confirm it within a set period in order to accept their place.
  3. Submission of documents: Enrollment requires various documents, such as the letter of admission, a valid identity card or passport, proof of higher education entrance qualification (e.g. Abitur certificate), proof of previous academic achievements if applicable, a passport photo for the student ID and proof of health insurance.
  4. Payment of semester fees: Enrollment is often associated with the payment of semester fees. These may include contributions to the student union, the semester ticket and administrative fees.
  5. Receipt of study documents: After successful enrollment, students receive their study documents, including their matriculation number, student ID card and other relevant information about the start of their studies.
  6. Introductory events: Many universities offer special introductory events or orientation weeks for first semester students to make it easier for them to start their studies.

Importance of matriculation for students

Enrollment is an essential step on your path to university and brings with it a number of rights and obligations. It not only marks the official start of your studies, but also gives you access to a wide range of resources and opportunities at your university..

Rights and opportunities

With your enrollment you receive:

  • Access to courses and examinations: You are officially authorized to attend courses and take exams.
  • Use of university facilities: Libraries, laboratories, computer pools and sports facilities are at your disposal.
  • Participation in campus life: You can take part in workshops, lectures, cultural events and student initiatives.
  • Counseling and support services: Access to student counseling, psychological counseling and career services.
  • Voting rights in the student council: You can vote in committees and stand for election yourself to help shape the interests of the student body.


Enrollment also entails obligations:

  • Compliance with study and examination regulations: You must follow the rules and requirements of your degree program.
  • Regular re-registration: You must re-register for each new semester and pay semester fees if applicable.
  • Active participation: You are expected to actively participate in your studies, which includes regularly attending courses and taking examinations.

Enrollment therefore not only offers you numerous benefits and resources for your studies, but also requires your active participation and responsibility as a member of the academic community. It forms the basis for a successful and fulfilling study experience.

Rights and obligations of students after enrollment

This table provides an overview of the rights and obligations associated with enrollment at a college or university.
Category Rights and opportunities Obligations
Courses and examinations Access to all courses and examinations of the chosen degree program. Regular attendance and fulfillment of all study-related requirements.
University facilities Use of libraries, laboratories, computer rooms and sports facilities. Responsible use of facilities and resources.
Campus life Participation in cultural events, workshops and student groups. Commitment and contribution to the community, adherence to codes of conduct where applicable.
Counseling Access to student counseling, psychological counseling and career services. Actively seek support when needed and utilize resources offered.
Student representation Right to vote in elections and opportunity to actively participate. Participation in democratic processes and, if necessary, taking on responsibility in committees.
Re-registration Continuation of studies through regular re-registration for each semester. Punctual re-registration and payment of semester fees.

Receipt of the certificate of enrollment

Once the enrollment process has been successfully completed, you will receive important documents as a new member of the student body that confirm your status as a student. One of these essential documents is the certificate of enrollment.

This certificate serves as official proof of your enrollment at the university and is required for various administrative and bureaucratic purposes, such as applying for BAföG, presenting it to the authorities or for various benefits to which students are entitled. The certificate of enrollment contains important information such as your matriculation number, degree program, semester and period of validity.

It is important that you keep this document carefully and have copies available if required. If you want to find out more about the certificate of enrollment, how to obtain it, what information it contains and how you can use it, I recommend that you read the detailed article on the certificate of enrollment.

Online enrollment vs. in-person enrollment

In the modern educational landscape, many universities offer both online enrollment and traditional in-person enrollment. Both methods have their own advantages and disadvantages, which can vary depending on your individual needs and the specific requirements of your university.

In-person enrollment


  • Convenience: You can complete the enrollment process from anywhere with internet access without having to be physically present at the university.
  • Time saving: Online procedures can reduce waiting times and the effort of traveling to the university.
  • Speed: Online enrollments can often be processed faster as all information is available digitally and can be processed more easily.


  • Technical hurdles: Not everyone is familiar with online procedures, and technical issues can complicate the process.
  • Lack of personal contact: You have less opportunity to speak directly with university staff and clarify personal questions.

Personal enrollment


  • Personal contact: You have the opportunity to interact directly with university staff, which can be particularly helpful with complex questions.
  • Immediate clarification of ambiguities: If you have any uncertainties or problems, you can receive immediate feedback and find solutions.


  • Time-consuming: enrolling in person requires you to travel to the university, which can be time-consuming depending on the distance.
  • Waiting times: Especially at peak times, there may be longer waiting times.

Frequently asked questions (FAQ) about enrollment

Enrollment is an important step on the path to studying and it is natural that many questions will arise. Here we answer some of the most frequently asked questions to provide you with clarity and support.

What happens if I miss the deadline for enrollment?

If you miss the deadline for enrollment, you may lose your place at university. However, some universities offer grace periods or a goodwill procedure for special cases. In this situation, you should contact your university's student advisory service or enrollment office as soon as possible to discuss your options.

What is the difference between enrollment and registration?

The terms "enrollment" and "registration" are often used interchangeably, but can have different meanings depending on the context. As a rule, enrollment refers to the entire process that begins with admission to the university and ends with the issuing of the student ID card. Enrolment, on the other hand, can refer specifically to the act of registering for courses within a semester.


What role does health insurance play in enrollment?

In Germany, proof of health insurance is a mandatory requirement for enrollment. Students must either be covered by statutory health insurance or, if they are privately insured, submit a certificate from their health insurance company confirming that their insurance cover meets the requirements.


Do I have to re-enrol every semester?

You do not need to enroll again, but you must re-register for each new semester. Re-registration is an administrative act in which you declare your intention to continue your studies and usually pay the semester fees.

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