Opportunities for student dropouts in Germany

Student dropouts starting anew in Germany at PFH University

In case you started your studies in Germany and did not finish them due to dropping out, there are still some good career options available to you. Today we are talking about the reasons why students drop out of their studies, and most importantly, what the opportunities are for drop outs.

Reasons for students dropping out of their studies

The reasons for students dropping out of university are very different. According to various studies, the main reasons are as follows:

  • Wrong choice of study programme (wrongly chosen major)
  • Inadequate study conditions (quality of teaching, lack of professional and practical relevance, poor university equipment, etc.)
  • Lack of study motivation (failed exams, personal performance)
  • Financial problems (students not able to sustain themselves during studies)
  • Family problems (caring for relatives, illness)
  • Mental and physical problems (communication, concentration and learning skills as well as the physical and mental stability of students)
  • Social integration (lack of integration of the student in the new living space)

Opportunities and alternatives for university dropouts


The most promising option would be to start an apprenticeship (vocational training, “Ausbildung” in German). With an apprenticeship, you will get as close as you can get to university studies while learning skills in a trade or profession. Most of the work is done while working for an employer who helps the apprentices learn their trade, in exchange for their continued labour for an agreed-upon time. Apprenticeships can also enable practitioners to gain a license to practice in a regulated profession.

Voluntary internship

A voluntary internship is always a good idea and offers a great learning experience with opportunities in many different industries. You are free to negotiate the content and duration and if it lasts longer than three months, you are entitled to minimum wage. If your internship is shorter, then compensation is optional and is up to the company to decide. 

Volunteer programmes

Germany offers different volunteering programs for both Germans and foreigners. 

Federal Volunteer Service (BFD)

The Federal Volunteer Service, also known as “Bundesfreiwilligendienst” (BFD), is an opportunity for professional activity in Germany even for foreigners and persons from non-EU countries. Applicants can get involved in the areas of social welfare, ecology, culture, sports, integration, civil defence, etc. Organisations such as Arbeiterwohlfahrt, Caritas and German Red Cross, often offer the BFD. The only requirements are basic German language skills and money for covering living expenses.

Voluntary Social Year (FSJ)

The Voluntary Social Year in Germany, also known as a “Freiwilliges Soziales Jahr” (FSJ) or “Freiwilliges Ökologisches Jahr” (FÖJ), is a programme that allows young people to volunteer in a social or environmental organisation. It is funded by the German government and offers opportunities in a wide range of fields, including education, healthcare, social work, and environmental protection. Participants receive a small allowance for living expenses and are also provided with accommodation, insurance, and training.

Voluntary Military Service (FWD)

The Voluntary Military Service (FWD) is an employment relationship for soldiers in a career of the lower rank Bundeswehr personnel. With a term of enlistment between 7 and 23 months, those who are interested get to know the armed forces and the wide range of opportunities a military career offers. In order to perform voluntary military service, applicants must be at least 17 years old, have completed compulsory full-time education and have German citizenship. 

Getting a job without a university degree

If you are a citizen of an EU/EEA country, you can start your job search in Germany, without having a university degree or a work permit. You can choose from a wide range of jobs for unqualified workers in all sectors. Some of them can offer you a career, whereas some do not provide any perspective and suit more for occasional work.

Other things to consider

There are many opportunities for reorientation:

  • Continuing your studies in the same subject at a different location or type of university
  • Changing majors and starting over in a new major
  • Switching to a dual degree



Thanks for taking the time to read our blog post on opportunities for university drop outs. Should you choose to continue your studies, at PFH we make sure you receive a high-quality education that makes balancing your work and studies easier!