After M. and I visited the Netherlands in the summer of 2012, we were fairly certain that the Netherlands was where we wanted to make our home. We started making definite plans to make the move. However, my daughter, K., who was just a sophomore in high school at the time, did not make the trip, had never been to Europe and couldn’t imagine leaving all her friends in Portland.
It was clear to me that K.’s future would include art. What wasn’t clear was how to further her interest in art without going into a massive amount of debt. K. wanted to obtain a Bachelor of Fine Art (BFA), which orients students toward a career in art. Top art schools in the US charge some of the highest tuition fees, anywhere from $32,000 to $40,000 per year in tuition. In addition, some charge additional fees of up to $20,000 per year. Even with generous financial aid, we could expect to need an excess of $20,000-$25,000 per year, just for tuition and related fees. This would be impossible for us without excessive student loans.
In 2013, we decided to take K. on our next visit to the Netherlands. We also made a special appointment with a member of the admissions committee of the top art school in the Netherlands for a consultation with K. to look at her work. The evaluation of her work went well, and she fell in love with the school. The yearly international student tuition fee is around €5000 (about $5,500) and for those who are cash-strapped, payable in 10 automatic monthly installments from a Dutch bank account. Additional student fees are a few hundred euros per year and include expenses for field trips throughout Europe. All of her instructors are working artists, which adds a practicality and mentoring aspect to many of her classes.
Class sizes are small and taught in English. K’s particular school admits less than 200 students per year, with a rate of acceptance of 10-25%, depending on the year. Students tend to be older than in the US, with those beginning the program being an average age of 21. Incoming students are often required to do a preparatory year (cost of around €2000) before applying for the Bachelor of Fine Art and Design program, particularly if the student is younger than the average age. After admission to the first year of the four year degree program, students are required to pass a level of proficiency every year in order to continue in the program. Evaluations and feedback are provided twice per year.
Even before completing the first year of her specialization, K.’s had more than one opportunity to work in her field and display her work. Several of her designs were selected for an exhibition at the Teylers Museum in Haarlem. She’s also worked on an exhibition at W139, an art collective in Amsterdam. K. has never regretted her decision to apply to art school in the Netherlands and can’t imagine living anywhere else. We love having her here with us.