Syndrome of the “eternal student”: why can they not finish their studies?
Career and self-realization
They are also called “wandering students” or “wandering students.” It is as if they are wandering around the student body, without putting at stake everything — a diploma or nothing. They annoy someone. Someone is compassionate and even envious: “People know how not to strain and calmly relate to their failures in learning.”
But are they really so philosophical about failed exams and tests? Is it true that they don’t care if they study at a common rhythm or not? Against the background of peers leading a turbulent student life, it is difficult not to feel like a failure. They do not fit into the universal concept of “Faster, Higher, Stronger.”
Long-term research has shown that the phenomenon of the eternal student has many causes. One of them is that not everyone is close to the idea of being the best and striving for heights. Each of us needs his own, personally calculated training time. Each has its own pace.
In addition to the desire to postpone everything for later, there are other experiences that accompany prolonged learning
According to a survey conducted by the Federal Statistical Office (das Statistische Bundesamt – Destatis) in the summer semester of 2018, there are 38,116 students in Germany who need 20 or more semesters to complete a degree. This refers to the pure time of study, excluding holidays, internships.
Statistics obtained by the North Rhine-Westphalia State Department of Information and Technology (NRW), on the other hand, give an idea of how large the number of those who need more time for education from the moment they enter a German university, only taking into account the university semester.
According to the analysis conducted in the winter semester of 2016/2017, there were 74 123 people who needed more than 20 semesters. This is almost 10% of all students in the region. These numbers show that the topic of long-term education is not just an exception to the rule.
In addition to the desire to postpone everything for later, there are other experiences that accompany prolonged learning.
Blame is not laziness, but life?
Perhaps some simply do not finish their studies because of laziness or because it is more convenient to be a student. Then they have an excuse not to go into the adult world with its 40-hour work week, joyless routine work in the office. But there are other, more significant reasons for long-term training.
For some, education is a heavy financial burden that makes students work. And work slows down the learning process. As a result, it turns out that they are looking for work to study, but because of it they miss classes.
It can be a psychological burden when a student who enters a particular university does not really know what he wants. Many students suffer from chronic stress: it is not easy to be in a state of race all the time. Especially if parents constantly remind them that it is worth studying for a son or daughter at a university.
For some, “digesting” is so difficult that medical attention is required, and they are forced to drop out of school. Often stress, anxiety about the future, about financial stability lead to prolonged depression.
Maybe the eternal student doubts the chosen path of professional implementation, plans for life, the need for higher education. The philosophy of achievements, it seems, pretty fed up with even the most notorious perfectionists and careerists. Maybe the “eternal student” is more intelligent than his classmates, result-oriented.
Instead of breaking his knee and running to the finish line at all costs, he admits that it’s more important for him not to suffocate in the book dust in a stuffy library and prepare for exams at night, but rather to breathe deeply somewhere on a trip with a backpack behind.
Or maybe love intervened in the usual course of the educational process? And it’s much more important to spend the weekend not at the table with textbooks, but in the arms and company of your beloved.
“What are you enriched with?”
What if we stop treating such students as “mentally disabled” and see a little more than a series of banal academic vacations? Perhaps a classmate spent ten semesters in the study of philosophy that interests him, and the summer in successful attempts to earn extra money, then spent four semesters studying law.
The officially missed time was not wasted. Just ask what it meant to him, what he did and what he learned during all these semesters. Sometimes one who doubts and allows himself to stop and take a break acquires more life experience than one who has studied non-stop for four years or six years, and then was immediately thrown into the labor market like a puppy in the water.
The “Eternal Student” managed to feel life and its possibilities and, having renewed his studies, he chose the direction and form (full-time, distance, distance) more consciously.
Or maybe he decided that he did not need a higher education (at least now) and it was better to get some kind of practical specialty in college.
That is why now in Germany and other European countries it has become popular among school graduates and their parents to take a break a year or two before entering their son or daughter in a higher educational institution. Sometimes it turns out to be more profitable than racing for a diploma.
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