College Life in the Netherlands is a little different from college life in other countries as the Dutch people think different and more important, they manage their work different.

College Life in other Countries

In my eyes college life in other countries is all focused around the grades you are getting on tests. What was your score in the test means whether you can go on with your classes and the grades on your degree decide whether you get into grad school or not. The grades on your graduate degree decide whether you are going to work at a Forbes 500 company or not.

Definitely an interesting strategy. Because if we make our schools good enough, this will be a good system. If you score good in the school system and the schools are representative of the actual system you will score good in the system called life as well right?

Of course! (And then there is the but:) But, our schools aren't really representative of how real life is. We can learn economic models but that won't make us good economics. We can learn every disease in the world but if we don't know how to talk to a patient we aren't good doctors.

And that is the reason I love the Dutch College Life.

College Life in the Netherlands

Yes, the Dutch have grades. And yes, there is a lot based on the grades. Actually, most of your academic life is based on your grades. But not on grades only. Where you eventually are going to work is not decided by your GPA and whether you can get in a PhD project is based on talent, not grades only.

For instance, if I want to become a neurologist, I don't need straight-A's to get in that residency. Most of my grades from my bachelor degree doesn't mean anything. It is all about my clerkship neurology and my passion/knowledge about that very subject. If I've done research in neurology, did an internship at the neurology department and I know how to talk with my colleagues I will get way further. This is exactly how it goes in Medical School in the Netherlands.

This has big consequences for the Dutch college life. This means students don't have to study all day, they have to study enough to pass the test. There is a word for this actually, called the 'zesjes-cultuur' ('six-culture', as a 6, on a scale of 1-10, is good enough to pass).

Another big thing in the Netherlands is the tuition fee. All the tuition fee's for the Universities are equal, around 1700 euros. The rest is all paid by the government.

Implications of the Dutch College System

These two things, the low tuition fee and less stress on grades, result in some implications in college life. Students don't have to have stress about finishing as fast as possible and neither have to stress about getting the best grades possible.

So the students in the Netherlands have more time to do other things! And therefore there are big clubs for all kind of things. Some examples:

  • Student associations. There are a lot of, very old, student associations which students can join, kind of like fraternities and sororities. Only now it is mixed. There is a hazing and students make friends for life.
  • Entrepreneurial students. Students can undertake more and explore more what they find interesting. There are students who start their own company for instance. In Groningen a group of students start a company which delivers beer and it is a big success. I started my own blog on living a successful college life!
  • Student initiatives. With the extra time and the bigger need for extracurricular activities there are lots of students initiatives. I was in the Executive Board of a medical student conference on (bio)medical sciences for example. There are also student initiatives helping foreign students feel home in the Netherlands and all other types of organisations!
  • Other extracurricular activities. There are medical students who are working in the home care, doing medical research and teaching elementary schools first aid. Extracurricular activities are a big thing in the Dutch college life, if Dutch students don't do anything besides going to college it is strange!
  • Parties! Not unimportant: the Dutch college students have time to party. Of course not every student has the time to party 5 nights a week, but there are definitely students who do so. Partying seems useless on one hand, but on the other hand it helps students big time in communicative skills and working with other people.

The Result of College Life in the Netherlands

As a result you will find more social students, more creative and especially more motivated students. The Dutch students did a lot, so they know what they want out of life. They sure know their way with talking and as they still went to college, they are smart enough to use it in a good way.

Conclusion About College Life in the Netherlands

As a Dutch college student I can only say I love it. I think it is one of the best ways to make sure the age-group of 18-25 (with a good set of brains) learns their way in life. If you want a motivated, smart and social student, you should try the Dutch college life!