Choosing the right course to study

Choosing the right course to study

Your child has successfully completed secondary school abroad and now has the option to continue their education in the Netherlands. The school system here is unique and difficult to compare with school systems abroad. This is certainly the case when it comes to secondary school, where you have to deal with different levels, profiles and final exams.

Therefore, it is important that you and your child(ren) are well informed about what level your child has done abroad and which level they can transfer to. Jacqueline Naaborg of StudiekeuzeTop3 and co-author Wendy van Dalen of Dutch for Children provide information about the available options.

Make sure your child chooses the right level

In the Netherlands, there are different education levels, beginning in secondary school. Here you can find Wendy van Dalen’s article about choosing the right pathway. Depending on which pathway your child was following, the next level of education can be chosen.

Higher education in the Netherlands consists of three types: secondary professional education (MBO), higher professional education (HBO) or academic education (WO). If you are not sure at what level your child should be studying in the Netherlands, an organisation called Nuffic can help you evaluate your child’s diploma from abroad.

However, if your child has registered for a course already, the school of their choice will do this for you. But I can imagine you would like to know this upfront.

Most students from abroad continue their education at a university of applied sciences (HBO) or a research university (WO).

Take your time, but don´t take too long

If you move to the Netherlands with a child who has graduated from secondary school and is ready to start further education, you'll probably want to think about finding the right course for them as soon as possible. From abroad, this sometimes requires a more creative approach, since you are less likely to visit any open days.

The best time to find out more about the courses available to your child is the year before they graduate secondary school. In the Netherlands, there are courses with limited-enrollment lotteries for which you must already be registered by mid-January. The deadline for most other courses is April 1 or May 1. Usually, you can visit open days throughout the year, often between November and March.

Choosing a course is a process for which you have to take your time. It will save you time, energy and money in the end!

Help from a school counsellor

The availability of school counselling varies enormously between secondary schools. My advice is to enquire at your child's current school to find out what they are doing to help students choose a course. Of course, in addition to this, you can also do the research yourself and / or enlist the help of a coach or adviser. The advantage of engaging a third person is that there is someone with a fresh and objective view to help your child find their way.

Jacqueline Naaborg


Jacqueline Naaborg

I am Jacqueline Naaborg, proud mother of two beautiful daughters, the wife of a wonderful Peruvian and working as an online study coach. It feels like my mission is to...

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