Studying: how everything works
A degree program is very different from school or an apprenticeship. Here, we show you what you're getting into when you go to college.
The study program is divided into semesters. Each semester lasts half a year, the winter semester starts at the beginning of October, the summer semester at the beginning of April (you can find the exact dates in the academic year schedule). The semesters are self-contained, so you usually attend a course for only one semester.
A semester consists of the lecture period and the lecture-free period (also known as semester break). During the lecture period, you attend the courses and work on the content learned in them. During the lecture-free period you mainly write your exams (usually in the first four weeks), but after that you can either take a vacation, go to work or do a short internship.
During your studies you will encounter several types of courses. The most important ones - especially at the beginning of your studies - are lectures, tutorials and tutorials.
The classic university course is the lecture: A lecturer, usually a professor, stands in front of a full lecture hall and gives a lecture. A lecture usually lasts 90 minutes.
There are often several hundred students in the lecture hall during the first semester, but there are also lectures with less than 10 participants.
The lectures present you with a lot of theoretical knowledge. This knowledge is consolidated in exercises by applying it, e.g. by calculating tasks or programming. Exercises take place in smaller groups of about 20-30 people and are led by PhD students and other staff members of the university. For each exercise you will receive a task sheet, which you work on at home beforehand. The solutions are then discussed in the exercise. Almost all computer science lectures have an exercise. In most cases, participation in the tutorial is also a condition for admission to the exam.
For some lectures there are also tutorials. On paper, these are similar to tutorials, but they are much more relaxed. In tutorials, the content of the lectures is practically implemented in programs. You will be supported by a student from a higher semester.
In the later course of your studies you will also have other courses:
In seminars you will practice scientific work. You will be given a topic and articles from scientific journals. Based on this material you will give a presentation in the seminar and write a paper.
Internships / Projects
Many interesting projects can only be done in groups, for example if you want to create a larger program. You will participate in some projects during your studies. Your group will be completely responsible for your project, so you will also do all the management yourself.
Besides the lectures, the study program consists to a large extent of independent learning. This is mainly the preparation and follow-up of your lectures and exercises. You use the material of the lecture (slides, exercise sheets), your notes, books from the library and the internet. You should plan at least as much time for this as for your lectures.
However, "independent learning" does not mean that you have to work alone: you can join a study group and discuss the topics and solve the exercises together with fellow students. This helps enormously, especially at the beginning of your studies, to get to grips with all the material.