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Scholarship from the "German National Academic Foundation" : Cancellation from the elite club

A big letter means acceptance, a small letter means rejection, I was told beforehand. Palpitations. I unlock the mailbox. Little letter. A damn little letter. I look at the sender: “Studienstiftung des Deutschen Volkes”. I tear it open: "Unfortunately, your application for inclusion in our funding was currently unsuccessful." It is written in black and white. I am not good enough. Not good enough to be promoted. Not good enough for a ticket to your elite club. I'm out.

I slowly go up the stairs, unlock my apartment, throw myself on my bed, pity myself, curse the world, send a few messages to family and friends - so that there are no annoying inquiries. In my hands I hold an A4 page with empty gossip. A standardized letter. "We hope that you do not doubt your own qualifications!" Thanks for these motivating words ... not. I take a deep breath, punch the ugly piece of paper and put it in the folder with the other documents for the Studienstiftung. Chapter completed. Then I look up again - and regret it. The time, the strength, the money.

Stays abroad, internships and IQ or NC values

In 2013, I was suggested for the scholarship by my school principal. The “suggestion code” is valid for two years. So this year I started studying law. I wanted to take the chance to study debt-free. Before starting my studies, I submitted my application documents: a long questionnaire and a three-page résumé showing how great I am.

A few weeks later I get an invitation to a selection seminar in Magdeburg. I pay the travel expenses and part of the hostel costs. “You will already meet interesting people in the selection seminar,” says the invitation. In reality, I run into 49 nervous freshmen who are all under pressure to perform. Little 1.0 monsters who absolutely want to maintain their “best of the year” status. Trimmed for performance, for elite. The world here revolves around stays abroad, internships and IQ or NC values. With my 1.4 Abi I am looked at diagonally: "Oh, and you are here anyway ?!"

"Good luck in your further academic career"

After an introduction, greeting and getting to know each other on Friday, the selection marathon begins on Saturday morning: six group discussions and two individual interviews. Half an hour at a time, a total of four hours. That's why I'm locked in this musty youth hostel for 44 hours, from Friday 6 p.m. to Sunday 2 p.m. There are nicer weekends.

In the discussions in groups of six, each participant must give a seven-minute presentation on any topic and then lead a 20-minute discussion that is as controversial as possible. Our auditor watches us, sometimes grimaces, frantically scribbling bullet points in his exercise book. He is silent, is not allowed to give any information. About nothing. Everyone is super committed, polite to the point of hypocrisy. Nobody wants to attract attention negatively. Let the finals finish, give the message.

Horror stories about the one-on-one conversations quickly circulate. Rumors of evil history teachers and merciless philosophy professors. I meet such a professor. From the TTIP agreement to the sense of human rights - he wants my opinion on everything. "Good luck in your further academic career," he says goodbye to me. That sounds like: "Goodbye never to be seen again". I feel very stupid.

A little letter makes me doubt

On Sunday, after the last selection dates, the great speculation begins. Who is taken and who is not? Everyone is hoping for the big envelope. Someone founds a WhatsApp group, for better speculation after the seminar. A week later, the first show-offers write promises. So I empty my mailbox too. And there it is, this little, meaningless letter that spoils my mood.

Sure, not everyone can be taken. That's why I don't want to act like a petulant child. There must be something they didn't like about me. I probably don't fit into the elitist society that the Studienstiftung is tinkering with. In the discussions, I have always campaigned for the minor opinions. Is that why I fall off the grid?

The matter does not leave me in peace: What criteria are used to select applicants? The lack of transparency in the process makes me doubt my own competencies. I even wonder if Jura is just a size too big for me. Can you tell that I don't come from any academic family? In any case, nobody in my family has ever studied. I am the first.

Everything is going really well. But I doubt - because of this small, bland letter. It is the meager testimony to all the energy I put into the application process. And that in the middle of the semester. All the effort - completely in vain.

I can do it without you

Enough with the howling. I move the folder far away and start believing in myself again. The next day I go to the bank and sign a student loan. Now I have a debt of 25,000 euros after graduation. So what? In return, I can concentrate fully on law, politics and journalism again - without the foundation's pressure to perform, which only distracts me from my path. Sometimes newspaper research is just more important to me than studying for hours in the bib. Take me this way or not at all.

Dear Studienstiftung, please be careful what you do with those you sort out, those you don't like. That you don't leave us out in the rain as failures, discourage us, depress us, frustrate us. I would have needed you. But I can do it without you. Thanks for nothing.

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