Studying at an old age – what to keep in mind

Around 80% of all male and female students start their studies directly after school. In the 2019 academic year, the average age of first-year students in Germany was 21.7 years old. But what if you want to start studying in your senior years? Are there thereby other entrance possibilities or conditions? We show you what options are available.

Studying at an older age - what to keep in mind

Studying at an old age – why go back to school again??

The question is: why not actually? In recent years, more and more seniors have decided to study at a German university. The reasons for this are often quite simple: they have the time! After ending their active professional life, many seniors now simply have the time to reorient themselves or continue their education.
For many older people, entering retirement is a whole new stage of life, which is often not quite easy. The well-structured daily routine you've had for years is suddenly no more. Now it is time to get used to a new daily routine. Many find this very difficult. But more and more seniors also see this as an opportunity to use their newfound time wisely. For example with the beginning of a study. In the past, women in particular were denied the opportunity to complete an academic education. But also many men at this time have rather decided for a craft profession. The offer of such professions was quite large and it was possible to earn money at an early age.

For many, however, the contact with other people also plays an important role. We humans have the most contacts at our place of work. If that falls away during retirement, you can also quickly lose contact with other fellow human beings. Another reason to begin studying in old age is to maintain mental fitness or. even expand. It has been proven that mental work keeps us fit and young.

It's safe to say that the reasons seniors want to start college are very different from why young people start college.

How does studying in old age work?

Seniors have different possibilities around at a university a study to begin. In addition to the classic "proper" studies, there is still the possibility to attend lectures as a guest student or to start a senior studies program.

Classic studies

A "regular course of study" is the term used to describe traditional study at a college or university, as most people know it. This means that one needs a university entrance qualification for such a study (z.B. The high school diploma) to be able to enroll at a university. You attend all lectures, write exams, and, upon successful completion of your studies, receive academic honors, as do younger male and female students. There are neither advantages nor disadvantages for seniors. They are treated the same as full students and participate normally in the study program. The advantage: through group projects and lectures, you quickly come into contact with other students and get to know a new social environment.

Guest auditor studies and senior studies

As a guest student, if you have registered in advance as such, you are allowed to attend all lectures of the desired course of study. However, it is not possible to participate in exam-related services or even earn a degree as a guest student. As a rule, a guest auditor study serves the participants exclusively for further education and knowledge transfer.

Visiting seniors are admitted in addition to their undergraduate seats. This means that as a guest student, you won't take away anyone's place in college.

A guest auditor study and senior study differ basically only in the terminology. In the case of a senior study program, colleges and universities often offer additional advising and counseling services. Seniors also receive admission as guest students in the senior degree program.

In summary:

  • No admission requirements are needed to enroll in a guest auditor or senior studies program
  • Fees for guest auditors range from €50 to €150 per semester, depending on the university
  • Admission for guest students is age independent
  • No degree is earned when studying as a guest student or senior citizen
  • Taking exams and earning credit is also excluded

The average age of guest students at German universities is over 50. And from year to year there are more and more registrations. So the range of senior study programs is becoming increasingly popular.

We wish all young and older semesters the best of luck in their studies!