German vs. U.S. Grading System

When I was applying to study abroad, I knew that the most important part of my decision would be the credibility of the school I would be attending (that is of course after factoring in travel opportunities, food, and fun). I chose Mannheim University because it’s known throughout the world as one of the best business schools on the planet. But did I really think about what I was getting myself into? No.

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Window in a Mannheim library.

Let me explain. Mannheim prides itself on the education that it offers its students, some of which go on to become leaders in their fields. When I was applying it sounded like a dream. Attending a university that would look stellar on my resume, and would give me that competitive edge employers were looking for. Did I realize that this would require plenty of hard work and studying on my part? No. Did I understand that studying abroad isn’t just all fun and games? Sort of. Did I have a slight panic attack when I realized I was practically going to a European Ivy League? Most definitely.

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Random find on the streets of Mannheim.

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with studying in a competitive school, on the contrary, I actually feel like I’m achieving what I came here to do: getting a solid education that can speak for itself. Although at first I was beyond intimidated by the amount of accreditations this school receives, I realized that it’s nothing I didn’t arrive prepared to conquer. I didn’t come from a 10-week, 4 quarters, 3rd week midterms school for nothing. I was ready. Until I realized we only have 1 exam for our entire grade. Que the panic.

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Picture taken while exploring Mannheim.

Despite doing my research and being totally aware that I most likely was only going to have 1 exam count for my entire grade in each class, there was a slight glimmer of hope inside of me, praying that maybe I would somehow luck out. Even though this is the common teaching and grading system in Germany, there was a chance I could luck out and have maybe 2 exams per class right? Fortunately, I was right, and not all of the professors here follow this grading system and assign presentations and projects along with a final exam. Unfortunately for me, none of my professors do this, so finals week stress and cramming here I come!

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Cool looking building on one of the streets in Mannheim.

There are plenty of upsides to this system, even though at first it doesn’t necessarily look like it at all. No homework – my eighth grade dreams are finally coming true! No pop quizzes. No senseless papers due at 11:59. Plus, the professors offer both exercise and tutorial classes, and post old tests and presentations to really make sure you understand the material like the back of your hand. Surprisingly, I’m not panicking (yet) for these exams, and think everything will somehow work out and I’ll be okay. I actually feel ready!

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