This is how to study
Waiting semesters are an unavoidable topic for many prospective students. Especially in degree programs with a numerus clausus (NC), they can be decisive. Waiting semesters can help to increase the chances of getting a place at university if the Abitur grade alone is not sufficient.
In this article, we want to shed light on the term "Waiting Semester" from all sides. We clarify what exactly waiting semesters are, how they are counted and what you can do during this waiting period. In addition, we answer frequently asked questions and give tips for useful alternatives.
Waiting semesters are those half-year periods during which someone did not enroll at a university after graduating from high school, even though they would have been eligible to do so. They serve as a criterion in the allocation of study places, especially in admission-restricted courses of study.
In popular courses of study, where the demand for places often exceeds the supply, the NC values (Numerus Clausus) are usually high. Waiting semesters can serve as a kind of "compensation" here. Each semester of waiting increases the chances of getting a place at university, as one is given preference over fresh school graduates. However, it is important to note that this does not mean that automatic admission is granted after a set number of waiting semesters. Depending on the study program and the university, the number of required waiting semesters can vary.
The calculation of the waiting semesters is actually quite simple: The semesters in which one was enrolled at a German university are subtracted from the total number of semesters that have passed since the acquisition of the university entrance qualification. This means that periods of professional activity as well as periods of unemployment, travel or internships can count as waiting semesters. However, periods of study that have already begun are not taken into account.
Anna graduated from high school 4 years ago. After that, she traveled for 2 years and then worked for 1 year before applying for a place at university. She has thus accumulated 7 waiting semesters (4 years = 8 semesters - 1 semester for work = 7).
There are certain activities, such as federal voluntary service, voluntary social year or even military service, which are not counted towards the waiting semester. This means that such activities are neutral with regard to the waiting period and are neither considered positively nor negatively.
It is also important to note that waiting semesters are only relevant for German universities. Anyone who studies abroad and then returns to Germany to take up further studies cannot expect to receive credit for waiting semesters that were accrued during the studies abroad.
Waiting semesters are a double-edged sword and often fraught with many prejudices. For some, they represent "lost time" as they wait impatiently for their studies to begin. For others, they offer a valuable opportunity for personal and professional growth. As with most things in life, there are both advantages and disadvantages, which may be weighted differently depending on the individual situation. In this section, we aim to provide a balanced perspective to help you make the decision that is right for you.
|Chances of getting a place at university
|Increases with the number of waiting semesters
|No guarantee of admission
|Time for travel, language courses, internships, etc.
|Considered as "lost time
|Opportunity for first work experience
|Limited choice of studies
|No time pressure, flexible start to studies possible
|Uncertainty and potential career delay
|Opportunity for job and savings
|Potential financial uncertainty without a firm plan
While waiting semesters can be a strategy to bridge time and possibly increase your chances of getting into a degree program, there are also alternative ways to get into the degree program of your choice.
There are therefore numerous alternatives to waiting semesters. Especially at private universities, an application independent of waiting semesters and numerus clausus (NC) can be promising.
Waiting semesters need not be regarded as "lost time". On the contrary, these months offer a rare opportunity to intensively develop in areas that are often neglected in the stressful daily university routine. Here are some more detailed tips:
An internship can be the perfect opportunity to get your foot in the door of your desired industry. Not only do you gain valuable work experience, you also make contacts that could be important for your future career. Often, internships also lead to a permanent position.
Volunteer work is not only good for the soul, but also looks great on your resume. You learn new skills, from project management to teamwork, and show social commitment, which is appreciated by many employers.
A job during the waiting semester not only provides the obvious financial cushion, but can also offer insights into work processes and structures that could be helpful during your studies. Particularly in subject-specific jobs, initial professional networks can already be established.
Travel broadens horizons and promotes personal development. Especially if you plan to study abroad or work internationally, intercultural experiences are a must.
In today's globalized world, mastering several languages is a clear advantage. A waiting semester offers sufficient time to devote oneself intensively to a new language or to deepen already existing language skills.
In this section, we clarify some of the most frequently asked questions about waiting semesters to give you a comprehensive overview.
Yes, during a waiting semester you are not bound to a university and therefore have the freedom to pursue full-time or part-time work. Many use this time to gain practical experience or to save money for the upcoming studies. However, it can be useful to clarify this with the department or the future university to ensure that gainful employment does not have a negative impact on the allocation of study places.
The number of waiting semesters can vary greatly depending on the degree program and university. Sometimes a few semesters are enough, while for very popular courses the waiting period can be several years. It is advisable to obtain information from the respective university or its website at an early stage.
No, waiting semesters are personal and cannot be sold or transferred. They are only valid for the person who applied and waited the corresponding time. A "trade" with waiting semesters is not possible and would also violate the rules of the allocation of study places.
Our Bachelor's and Master's Degree Programs will provide you with relevant knowledge and skills you need for a successful career.
Did you find this article helpful? Do you have any suggestions or questions about this article? Did you notice something or is there a topic you would like to learn more about in our dictionary? Your feedback is important to us! This helps us to constantly improve our content and deliver exactly what you are interested in.
Contact editorial office