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dutch higher education

Part Two of School Daze in Holland Series: You Better Like Your Classmates, You See Them Everyday.

The process for class scheduling in the Netherlands and the US, could not be more different. In the United States, students who are pursuing higher education are given the chance to make their own schedules. In the Netherlands, you are placed into a class, and you have the exact same schedule as the rest of the 25 people in your class. While the smaller class sizes are nice, and the chance to really get to know people well almost instantly is there. For someone who previously got to decide if she was going to make her schedule so that she didn't have 8am classes, or classes on Friday, if she was lucky, this can be quite an adjustment. 

In the States, if you were having a bad week, no one knew. You probably only had one class a week with a group of people, and your next class would be full of completely new people. Now, if I have a bad week, everyone knows about it because I have the same 25 people in my class for every single class. There are some distinct advantages and disadvantages to both systems. 

Advantages to US System:

  • Students get the chance to feel that they are in control of their education.
  • Students are allowed the opportunity to mingle and make connections with a massive group of people.
  • Students get to try out different things to really see if they made the right choice in their major. 

Disadvantages to US System:

  • It can be incredibly difficult to make new friends when you first get to college.
  • Large class sizes.
  • The feeling that you are unsupported by your classmates.

Advantages to Dutch System:

  • The ability to make friends easily, because of the sheer amount of time you spend together.
  • Smaller class sizes.
  • Every single class has to do with your field of study.

Disadvantages to Dutch System

  • You see the same people over, and over again. There is little chance to meet anyone else.
  • You have no control over your schedule. Which particularly sucks if you take two buses and a train to get to school and you have a four hour break between classes. 
  • For someone who had the freedom before, it can feel like a step back. The last time I was in school and couldn't pick at least one of my classes was 7th grade.

The jury is still out on to which system works better. I am pretty lucky in that I like most of my classmates. The two girls above are some of my favorites! However, if you didn't, it would be a long two years. 

What is scheduling like where you are from? 

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Part One of School Daze in Holland Series: MBO, HBO or WO, Higher Education Levels or TV Channels?

Welcome to part one of my series of unknown length trying to explain my experiences in Higher Education in the Netherlands. This series could go on indefinitely, or, it could be 3 posts long. We will know when we get there. 

In part one, I would like to explain some of the different types of Higher Education available in the Netherlands. Today we are going to focus on MBO, HBO or Hogeschool, and WO or Universitit. These different levels are hard for foreigners to grasp mainly because they try to compare them to the Higher Education Systems of their home countries. Don't do it! 

*It is important to note that the levels start in high school, but since I haven't attended high school here, you are going to have to look elsewhere for this information.

MBO is for immediate entrance into vocational studies. The type of things available for study here are graphic design, computer languages and multimedia, teaching assistant, youth worker, and so forth. MBO get a bad rap sometimes due mainly to the different level and deregulation of the schools. I have yet to see a MBO available in English. This is strictly for the Dutch and doesn't really have an international equivalent. 

HBO is often referred to by Americans as a Community College equivalent. I don't really think you can compare the Dutch System to the American one due to the fact that International HBO students do earn a bachelor's degree. The difference mainly between HBO and WO is that HBO is more practical and hands on where are WO is more theoretical. For example, if you want to be a teacher, journalist, social worker, or manager you would go to HBO. I am currently in HBO for International Tourism Management. I wish it was more of the cake walk that people who do not understand the system make it out to be. I am more intensely busy in my HBO program then I was at either of the two US Universities I attended. HBO students are also said to be more prepared to go straight into the work market due to the many practical aspects of their studies. 

WO or Universitit is as I said before more theoretical and research intensive. This is for your scientists, future doctors and lawyer, historians and so forth, go. 

HBO students can get a HBO Masters, or they can get a WO Masters after the HBO Masters. 

I hope this cleared up some of the differences between the different levels of the Dutch System. I know it is confusing, so questions are always welcome. 

 

Image from Wikipedia

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