The first 1-2 years involves many general education courses across a wide spectrum of disciplines. Then after exploring their interests through taking a number of lower division classes, they will readjust their major and career plans accordingly.
As was mentioned earlier, if a student wants to be an accountant and CPA, he/she would 'not' go a university in the EU for that. Instead, he/she would go to hogeschool perhaps. I have no idea what differentiates one major and profession from the next if both require 3-4 years of higher education. Would all business majors including accounting go to hogeschool or do some go to a university? Are universities mainly for STEM majors?
Realistically, most of those gen ed courses in the US tend to just be things like College Algebra or Calculus, a science like biology, chemistry, or physics, art appreciation, English 1301 and English 1302, maybe a foreign language, US history 1301 and 1302, US government 2301 and 2302, um, stuff like that. Kids attending university in NL will have taken those gen ed things in high school. Now, some courses are not offered in high school, and sometimes you can substitute something more interesting for a gen ed course, like, I took applied behavior analysis for some gen ed requirement, but a lot of people just look at the stuff listed as the gen ed requirements (without reading the fine print that says certain other courses also will qualify), and listen to what their advisor tells them, and end up taking the stuff that kids in NL get in high school. And while some majors have a lot of elective space, others have almost none - like EE majors, or architecture majors, or w/e.
Like, I had Dutch, English, German, French, and Latin in secondary school, I had biology, chemistry, physics, algebra, geometry, trig, calculus, statistics and probability (those are all in integrated math), macro and micro economics (one integrated class - there's also a class that's more of an accounting class, but I didn't have space for that), history, (physical and human) geography, shop (as in, woodworking, metalworking, electrical stuff, etc - there's also a crafts class that normally everybody takes but since I was in the bilingual program that was something we didn't get to take), art, art appreciation, music, some misc class that covered things like personal health, hygiene, safety, and life skills and study skills and other stuff not covered in other classes, PE, um, that probably about sums it up. Now, I obviously didn't have all of the above every year, though I did have 15 different subjects for a few years (which is common).
Anyway, no, universities are not just for STEM degrees. They just have a more theoretical slant. Here's an example of a list of bachelor's degrees:
If you click on the majors, you can get a description - though for some the description is in Dutch... if you scroll down, in the box it says whether the major is 100% in Dutch (rare), 50%-50%, or 100% in English (there might be other options, but those were the ones I saw). Maybe, for a bad comparison, you could think of PhD programs. You can get a PhD in anything, but they're more scientifically oriented. Obviously, these are not 3 year programs to a PhD, and realistically, I think that since that whole European standardization stuff hogeschool and university have become more similar... I mean, people have been saying that there should be more applied and real life stuff in university education for decades etc... NL has been moving more towards the American model, for better or worse.
I don't think there are many Americans attending hogeschool. There don't seem to be many Americans doing any kind of undergraduate stuff in NL - I've heard a number of people tell me about their sibling or whomever who is doing/did a PhD in NL, but undergrad, or even Master's... I haven't really heard of many Americans doing that. The Chinese seem to be more aware of the possibility of studying in NL (in my very limited experience).
Edited by luuknam, 15 November 2017 - 01:46 PM.