The knowledge I had about the American high school came from movies. Not a really good source, I know. But the knowledge that the Americans have about the Dutch schools is even less or you could better say nothing. So for the Americans a blog about the Dutch high school and for the Dutch people a blog about the American high school. And everything surrounded by it. Oh and people of course things could be different depending from school to school. Not everything is the same for every school in a country.
I think that until the 6th grade both systems are pretty much the same, beside the naming. But I won’t bother to much about the Dutch names, because Americans can’t pronounce it anyways. I mean if you want to have a good laugh, try to let the Americans pronounce a word like goedemorgen. The ‘g’ and the ‘r’ are big trouble for them. But back to the system.
After 6th grade you continue with school and as soon you reach 9th grade, you can call yourself a Freshman. And this is also the moment you’re in high school. Before that you are Junior High/ middle school. 10th graders are called sophomores, 11th graders juniors and 12th graders seniors. After 12th grade you’re done with high school. The biggest difference with the Dutch system is that everybody is in the same grade. There are no different levels in a grade. When you choose a class like US history, you have the option between US History and College US history. US history is easier than College US history. So if you are really good in US history, you choose a higher level of US history. Same with math, chemistry and a bunch of other classes. If you are really good in chemistry but really bad in math, you have the option to choose a College chemistry class and a basic math class. Visa versa. This makes it also possible to have people from every grade in your class. Except for English, that is a class that you follow with your grade (in my school at least, in Holdingford this was also different).
When you get a grade in America, you get a letter instead of a number. A is the best you can have, and a F is the worse. But you need to have at least 55% correct to get a C, and at least 85% to get an A. But those percentages are different for each teacher. They could be higher or lower.
The classes you can choose from depends in what grade you are. In 8th grade you will have more mandatory subjects and only 2 free choices. But in your senior year, depending on the amount of credits (points you have by finishing your class) you have, you can choose more classes yourself. You could choose to have 4 study hours on a day or a work experience hour where you are able to work for your boss for money during school time. Also something the Dutch people don’t have is to have classes at a college instead of having a class at your high school. Some people have more classes at a college than at the high school. You don’t really see them anymore than.
As far as I know the Americans don’t really have a difference between a college and a university as we have. To go to a certain college, you need a certain amount of credits you got for your classes in high school. Sometimes you need a class for your college done at high school like chemistry. But this all depends on the college or university you got to. You always have to apply for a college.
At the end of group 8 (or 6th grade in America), you will do a test to define in what level you will go to in high school. Beside the test, the teacher also gives an advice. We have 6 different levels. But for now, I will only take the most common ones. VMBO-TL (or MAVO), HAVO and VWO. Depending on how smart you are you will end up in one of these 3 levels. VMBO-TL is the lowest level and only 4 years. HAVO is 5 years and VWO is 6 years. VWO is the highest level you have (and you could divide VWO also in a 2 levels. The highest level is called Gymnasium and is for the real smartie pants under us). If you finish VWO you can go to University, if you finish HAVO you can go to college and if you finish VMBO-TL you can go to an easier type of college. Sounds complicated, it is. Maybe the graph below will help you a bit.
It is not before the fourth year of VMBO-TL, HAVO or VWO to choose somewhat your own classes. Everybody in the grade of that level will have the same classes. That means that you will see the same classmates every hour of the day for the first 3 years. The schedule repeats itself every week instead of every day as I have here. At the end of the third year, you choose a package for the last 1 or 2 years. This package contains a number or classes everybody needs to have, no matter what, this is Dutch, English and P.E. And beside those you have the classes that belongs to your package. I had the package called Nature & health, so I had also chemistry, biology and science kind of class (called NLT). And then I could choose 2 subject yourself. The other packages where Nature & Technics, Economics & society and Culture & society. We don’t have really fun classes as you have here. We don’t have choir, ceramics, natural disasters or band. We only have 2 art classes were you could choose from, and if you were lucky there was a music class but that is nothing compared to band or choir. But we had the option to have German or French and if you did Gymnasium you had to choose Latin or Greek.
After you finish your level of high school, you can either go to university, college (HBO) or an easier kind of college (MBO). But that depends on which level you finished in high school. See graph. MBO can be between 2 and 4 years, HBO 4 years and university between 4-6 years. I won’t go into the details, that makes it even more confusing. But the big differences between those 3 types is that with MBO you can become a nurse, with HBO you can become a nurse with manager functions and with university you can become brain surgeon (if you want to….).
So that are the systems in a nutshell. But there are things beside school itself.
Bike VS bus
The Netherlands are known for their bicycles. I mean we have more bicycles than people. And there are 17 million people living in the Netherlands…. And we Dutch people just love their bike (except when it is raining or when it is slippery). So almost everyone comes to school on their bicycles. Only a few teachers that live far away come with their car or with the train. In America you come with the car or you drive the yellow school bus. The yellow school bus looks like fun, but it isn’t. There is not enough room for the legs, so I’m always folded up between the chairs. But everyone who is old enough got a driver license and got a car. So the school bus is mostly filled with annoying little children. Yeeh. FUN. Not. I miss my blue crappy bicycle. The freedom I had with my bicycle. If I wanted to go somewhere I jumped on my bike and done. Now I have to ask for a ride and I feel bad every time I have to ask for a ride. I don’t want to bother anyone to ask if they could drive for me.
Americans are surprised if I tell them that the only school activity my school really had was a debate club and a thing that looks a lot like student government. And even those 2 things is nothing compared to America. If you want to play soccer or field hockey you go to a club outside school. You want to play in musical or play, you go to theater outside school. I like it in America that not everybody goes home directly after school and it is easier to make friends this way. But the time and money that is spend for sports is almost ridiculous. Sport is a BIG thing beside school. I don’t know if it is a good or bad thing but they take things seriously here. For every club, thingie and sport you ‘get’ a t-shirt. You don’t really get it, but sometimes you can pay for it through fundraising. That is a big thing here. I never done it before in the Netherlands and my sale skills are kind of….yeahh… I did a fundraising for choir to go to Chanhassen and I raised $180 and the half of it can I keep to pay for my Chanhassen trip in May, saves me $60. The other $30 goes to someone else who needs it.
I like to go to school here! It is really easy (mostly because I chose really easy classes). I do notice that I’m ready to go to college. All that high school drama is something I’m not going to miss…
Oh and a happy valentine day! And happy Birthday to you dad! Last week people could have bought roses for $6 each, fundraiser though for PROM. People already started talking about prom and a few people already have been asked for PROM (not me). Prom will be on May 6th. Tickets are $50 each!
And then I was already 1670 words further!
Tot ziens maar weer!