> Generations have managed to do it and before the bolognese times it was even harder when one had to make their own schedule, unlike now when it's just advanced school with set schedules.
My personal experience as a B.Sc. student during the second half of the 2000s, at a German university:
There was a plan that recommended, but not required, certain lectures and seminaries to be taken during a certain semester.
Some foundations-lectures were required in the sense that you needed this specific lecture to get a degree, and some you had to pick, those were just labeled 'specialized lecture I', 'specialized lecture II', ... , 'advanced lecture I', 'advanced lecture II', ..., 'lecture in minor I', etc. All the specialized lectures had to be from the same area of specialization, while advanced lectures could be chosen from all areas of specialization. Other than that, it was the same set of lectures.
The pro-seminary could be in any arbitrary area, but the seminaries had to be from the same area of specialization as the specialized lectures, which limited choice. Students who tried to sign up for seminaries too late were not able to find a spot and had to wait until next semester.
Students were not required to take "Foundations of my narrow focus of research" with professor Y in order to take "Advanced topics in my narrow focus of reseach" with professor Y, but if you did chose to attend part II without attending part I, you were on your own.
Each and every lecture came with an exam, either written or oral. No exam, no credit, that is one difference from pre-bologna-times.
The a 'orientation examination' at the end of semester 3 put a restriction on when you took certain exams. This examination was a "virtual examination". Students automatically passed after passing 3 written exams for 3 lectures in basic principles. We were supposed to take those lectures in Semester 1 and 2, but were free to take them in 2 and 3. (not possible to take all of them in 3, though, since they were held yearly.) These lectures were the only three lectures we absolutely had to attend in semesters 1-3.
Exams did not have to be taken in the semester you attended the lecture. Once you gained admittance to the exam (prüfungsberechtigt), you could take it at a later point in time. So the 'orientation examination' could in theory be passed by passing three exams in semester 3.
All of the lectures we were supposed to take in Semesters 1 and 2 had exercises and tutor groups, so did most of the later lectures. Exercises did not contribute to grades, but handing in (decent) solutions before the deadline was required to gain admittance to the exams. Attendance at the tutor groups was required to gain admittance to the exam.
For the big beginner-lectures, there were multiple tutor groups for each lecture, taking place in different rooms in different buildings on different campuses all over town at different times. Those groups could collide with lectures and with each other if you did not pick carefully.
Sign-up for tutor-groups happened in the form of lists on black boards (black board closest to the respective professors office), on a first-come-first-served-basis. In unlucky cases, you were late for sign-up, you had to sign up for a tutor group that collided with a lecture (not so bad, no attendance taken in lectures) or collided with another tutor group (bad, attendance taken in tutor groups, you had to find some other student who was ready to trade groups, or you would half to wait until next year.)
We were supposed to take lectures in a minor starting from semester 1. There were seven minors to pick from, each with a set of lectures to pick from (3 out of 4 or something like that). Those lectures, again, came with tutor groups we had to sign up for. Those tutor groups took place at the department where the minor was hosted. In the extreme case, that meant 10km away at the other end of the city.
Some lectures, even in the minor, came with lab-sessions. In that case you took "lecture y", and you had to do "lab sessions for lecture y". But you had to sign up for the lab sessions separately. Most lab sessions were offered both during the semester (one session per week) and during the semester break (all sessions in two weeks, one per day.) Sign-up was, again, done with lists on blackboards.
Obviously, no one ever handed any of us a schedule.
In later semesters, it was theoretically possible to cram all your lectures, seminaries, etc. into Monday, Wednesday and Tuesday, at least in theory, but that would have severely limited your selection.
Main difference to the Diploma-studies as I see it:
- only exams for lectures, no Vordiplom/Hauptdiplom
- but exams for each and every lecture, no credits for attendance anywhere
- did not have to personally combat the professors secretaries over my credits in a written form, a central register was introduced
I was wondering about that. It might just be the usual old-timer talk. "you kids have it easy, I walked to school, it was uphill both ways, during snow storms, in both winter and summer".