US universities are easier

The comparison between Germany and America is laughable

If someone compares the German university system with the American one, I have to laugh. It's like comparing apples and pears. American culture just works differently on this point. I grew up in the suburbs of Washington and wanted to study nearby. The following options were available within an hour: George Mason University, Northern Virginia Community College, George Washington University, Georgetown University, American University, University of Maryland, University of the District of Columbia, Howard University (where mainly blacks study), Galludet College (for the deaf), Catholic University, Trinity College (which mostly women attend), Johns Hopkins University. There are 3,500 colleges and universities in the United States. We also pay for the large selection.

At Harvard, annual undergraduate fees are $ 26,000. Princeton, where Joschka Fischer now teaches, charges $ 27,000. A year of my PhD at Georgetown University now costs $ 31,000 for major. So only the rich can study in the US, right? Not correct. At state universities, whoever lives in the state in question pays nothing or almost nothing. My parents were able to support my studies at a private university. I also made bread in a restaurant and checked tickets in the cinema. German friends think I was oppressed. Be that as it may, there was always time for beer and baseball, and I actually thought my education was pretty good.

I also got financial support. American University - where I graduated from undergraduate degree - has given funding to roughly half of its students over the past year. Universities can afford to help. They are enormous "fundraising" machines. Yale just received a $ 25 million donation from a former student. American universities are also supported by the local community. Eli Lilley, an Indiana-based pharmaceutical company, has just donated $ 7.5 million to the local university's cancer center. The University of Indiana is deeply committed to the community. Law students advise low-income families in a "legal clinic". My father attended the Virginia Polytechnic Institute 60 years ago. Today, as then, he wears his university sweatshirt every Saturday and watches the VPI football games on TV. Every year he sends a check to his former university.

Sometimes they say you have to go to an elite university to get anywhere in America. Not even close. It's true, Bill Clinton and Bill Gates went to Harvard and George W. Bush went to Yale. But Condoleezza Rice attended the University of Denver. Howard Schultz, the Starbucks mastermind, was at the University of Michigan on a football scholarship. Ralph Lauren never finished his studies at City College in New York.

Of course, the elite universities are not bad. Don't think Harvard is a university. Harvard is more of a country. The university's net worth is $ 29 billion. That corresponds to the gross domestic product of Latvia. Harvard's former and current faculties have produced 43 Nobel Prize winners - more than Russia, Japan and Italy combined. Some people say that American universities are all about money. American students see it differently. They think more like buyers and believe that you get what you pay for.

Translation: Isabel Sarasin