I have just obtained my Bachelor's in Computer Science (CS) at one of the better universities in Germany. Let me call it AM (Alma Mater). My results during these years were great, i.e. I impressed some professors and I graduated with the highest possible GPA. I decided to do my Master's in CS at the same institution. This was a somewhat forced decision: I did not want to go to the US, and the better universities in Europe (for CS) seem to be located either in the UK or in Switzerland, which are both too expensive for me. I was too focused on my study (and too lazy) to try to fight for a scholarship in either of these countries, so the natural choice was to remain at AM, where I already have a scholarship.
However, I am now realizing that I am not very happy with my situation. The truth is that my impression of AM is not very good. Whenever I discuss CS concepts with my friends/colleagues from AM, I can not help but notice that they are superficial and do not really understand the material. I often get this feeling even when I interact with the tutors (who are mostly Master's/PhD students, but also assistants). Sometimes, I even feel that some professors have embarrassing holes in their knowledge, although I must admit that most professors did not disappoint me. Don't get me wrong: I also met students that impressed me and that helped me stay modest, but it is frustrating to see how many of the AM (future) graduates are very shallow in their knowledge.
I think that most of my frustration is caused by the German system. It is almost trivial to be admitted to AM's CS program, and even though some filtering is done in the first study year, the pressure to produce many graduates clearly affects the quality of the teaching and of the... graduates. There are too many students. And, to be honest, it saddens me to see that many severely unqualified people get the same degree as I do. The only thing that officially separates me from them is the GPA, but I am not convinced that the GPA plays any serious long-term role.
Moreover, the fact that I only rarely came in contact with students that are "better" than me affects my motivation. All these years I only worked alone, and I am struggling hard to push myself to work constantly. My passion for the subject decreased. I became very good at perfecting the necessary work for the exam, and at perfecting the exam, but I feel that my creativity plummeted and that I am no longer as curious as I should be. I go through the concepts very thoroughly, but am not really interested to do more than that. I am working mostly because it's the thing that I am very used to do, but there is no longer any conscious will to do it. I am worried that it is only inertia that keeps me afloat. And now that my Master's at AM is about to begin, I am generally quite sad, which is ironic, because objectively my situation is not bad at all.
The truth is, I (maybe erroneously) fell under the impression that I deserve to be at a slightly better place than AM, and am now struggling to motivate myself to continue performing at AM. For me, Academia makes sense as a career option if I could do it at one of the top "teams", where truly influential research is carried out and where imposture is as low as possible. I know that such great "teams" can be found everywhere in the world, and am sure that AM also has strong departments, but I am still young enough to dream about going somewhere even better. And I struggle to see a clear path to get there.
I would be very grateful if any of you had the time to just comment what I wrote here. I do not really have a specific question, except "How should I assess my position?". I just want to hear the thoughts of someone that has a mature view on Academia.