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studying in the netherlands

Part 3 of School Daze in Holland: Grades

Getting straight A's is not a thing here in the Netherlands. School's here give you grades on a 10 point scale. Anything above a 5.5 is passing, anything above a 7 is considered good. I was told to never expect a 9. This took some adjustment as my whole life until I moved, I was on a number system, and then A's were 4 points, B's were 3 and so forth. 

I remember when I received my first grade of the year. It was a respectable 7.5 on a group project. The problem was, I didn't know how to feel. My group of very hard workers were all congratulating each other on a job well done, I wasn't  sure how much I should celebrate. I wanted to make it fit on my letter grade scale. Then my brain went to a 75, which would be a C where I am from. Who celebrates a C? 

That was when I was explained the you should be proud of a 7 and think of it more like a B. Because no one every gets 9's. Well, I am happy to say that thus far, I have received four 9's and even a completely unheard of 9.5. 

It is all about adjusting your expectations. 7.5 is my happiness limit, if I get below, I am pretty upset. It is important to note that the only grades received are those at the end of the period. Each period has one project, perhaps a portfolio or two and a few final exams. 

My grades are something I am pretty proud of this year, however I have failed an exam. I could go on with excuses about what all was going on in my life, (I was pretty depressed about all the deaths of people I cared about) but really I didn't study as much as I know that I could have. Now, if I was pursuing a degree in the States, this would mean that I would have to take the class over. In the Netherlands, it just means that I have to retake the exam. You can retake the test up to 5 times. You have to reach a certain number of points to make it out of each year, but if you fail one class it is not going to impact you that much, If you don't have enough points to pass the first year, you can not continue with that major. 

How does this compare to when and where you were in Uni?

Don't forget to check out:

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

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

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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. 

 

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