"I have never regretted my decision. I feel much happier because I enjoy what I study."

     Dineo Sithole, switched from International Taxation and Law to International Relations

Do you actually enjoy studying but are not really sure about the subject or the university?

You may have chosen a subject that does not really suit you and your interests and skills. Or you could be at the wrong university because you don’t feel comfortable there or the university doesn’t have the right specialisation. In these cases you should think about whether a change of subject or university would be an option for you.

Janina: From studying political science at a distance learning university to studying social work at the Hochschule Niederrhein

At that time I decided to study political science, administrative science and sociology at a distance learning university because I found the organisation of my studies very appealing: flexible study times and places (and thus enough time to work and travel on the side), learning in a way that suited me best. In terms of content, I was already interested in the field of study before my Abitur, even if, in retrospect, I think that I was a little too optimistic about my career opportunities.

After I made good progress with my studies at the beginning, the euphoria subsided after a few semesters, because the flexibility and study organisation, which was purely online, became more and more difficult for me: The accessibility of the lecturers was increasingly difficult and problems that could have been clarified in a short personal conversation dragged on for weeks. In addition, there were very rigid guidelines for the examinations: At this time on the day of the exam, illness meant not only failing the exam, but also a hefty fine. When the university restructured my studies and I had to repeat modules that I had taken before in a similar way, the studies became more and more a stress factor for me.

However, I did not consider changing my studies for a long time and always postponed it in favour of the thought “There are only a few modules left”. On the other hand, every time I passed the next exams, I was more afraid of the Bachelor thesis, because if it was so difficult to deliver a satisfying paper, how would it be with the final thesis? And: What exactly should I do with it after graduation?

Nevertheless, in spring 2015, it was clear to me that I did not want to finish my studies. The decision was not an easy one, especially because two submodules and the Bachelor thesis were missing, and I had always made the claim to myself that I would not give up.

I was then faced with the decision: new studies or vocational training?

In the end, I decided against an apprenticeship, even though it seemed more lucrative at first glance – especially financially. What kept me from doing so was the experience I had gained in the part-time jobs I had done since coming of age: I wanted to work with people and not just see them as numbers in a system. I also wanted to continue working scientifically.

Due to my wedding and the move to my own home in the country, I suddenly had an geographical alternative as well: the Hochschule Niederrhein with the Department of Social Work, where I finally “found” – Social Work. I used the basic internship, which was necessary for admission, to see if I could really imagine working in the profession in the long term. I could. I wanted to.

Of course, I also received criticism for this decision: How could I want to start over so soon before graduation? In the middle of my twenties, when most of people are already gaining a foothold or have gained a foothold professionally?

My biggest critic, however, was myself all the time.

I am very sure that I would not have taken this step without the support of my husband, who – since we met and until today – has supported and encouraged me in every difficult decision and in every situation in life. He is right when he says that I must be able to live with the decision. He is speaking from experience, as he also did an apprenticeship after his first studies and is very successful with this second way.

I thought that I would give up and lose if I dropped out of my first study and started over again. Now, while I am writing my bachelor thesis, I know: I have gained – experiences, quality of life and a new future.

It is also possible for international students to switch degree programmes or the university. However, this requires the approval of the Immigration Office. This is generally not a problem within the first three semesters. If, however you have been studying for some time, the Immigration Office will check more closely whether you can complete your studies within a certain time frame.