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Choosing a high school education

Photograph: iStock

Text: Josephine Wan

Denmark is probably one of the countries that offer the most diverse varieties of high school educations.

There are mainly four types of youth educations (ungdomsuddannelser):

STX: 3-year ordinary high school education which offers science, maths and arts subjects.

HHX: 3-year commercial high school education which also offers trade and commerce related subjects.

HTX: 3-year technical high school education which has more focus on science and mathematical subjects.

HF: 2-year ordinary high school education, which consists of both compulsory and elective subjects.

To read more about the different educations, you can visit this link (in Danish only):

Students choose their own path

In my previous articles, you would have read about the Danish culture and how they encourage and nurture their children. Young Danes are brought up to think independently, which is why they choose their education according to their interests and goals. This is a strange concept for internationals coming from other countries, where they might be more involved in their children's choice of education. By offering different types of educations (ungdomsuddannelser), they have the perfect opportunity to choose their path towards their future. If, however they choose the wrong education, there is the opportunity to change and choose another one. This is a valuable lesson for youth growing up in Denmark, that it's okay to make wrong choices, as you can always make it right.

According to a report by the EU commission in 2018, 48.8 percent of Danish students between 30 and 34 years old had completed their tertiary educations - compared to only 39.9 percent as the average in the rest of the EU. It shows how important it is to have chosen the right youth education that prepares them for tertiary education - and how important it is to have the chance to change if they make the wrong choice the first time.

School life

Like in folkeskole, school life is relaxing and fun, but this doesn't mean that they don't learn anything. They learn by reading and researching, then discussing and presenting their results in groups as a class activity. Teaching is very interactive, and it consists of discussions and debates. It also changes from folkeskole as they start receiving homework; this can be hard for some students to adjust to. The task usually comes in the form of written assignments (afleveringer). Most students enjoy the freedom of working on these and look forward to getting feedback from their teachers.

Subjects offers

Different educations have different focuses along with their regular subjects. However, it is unlikely you can avoid some subjects totally. For example, in some countries, if you are an art student, you won't have maths at all. In Denmark, even you are an art student; you will still need to have maths, just at the basic level. This is useful if you happen to have chosen the wrong education type and need to enter another one.

Other activities

Besides classes and assignments, students also have other activities such as visiting museums and corporates etc. Most youth educations include a study trip (studietur). Study trips are relevant to their studies, and can sometimes take them on a trip overseas. These trips are exciting experiences for young people.

Social life

Sense of community (fællesskab) is extraordinarily strong among these high school students. They spend these important years of their lives together, both in school and outside socially. You have probably come across the word fest, which means party? Most people misunderstand them and think it is all about drinking, but it mostly means hygge for young people. This is how they spend time together to get to know each other, develop friendships and shares different experiences together.

"By offering different types of ungdomsuddannelser, they have the perfect opportunity to choose their path towards their future."

It's all about the hat

Before corona dampened celebrations, high school students in the final months of their education, order their graduation caps. This is a typically Danish tradition and is very much part and parcel of high school student life. Celebrations usually begin with a big ceremony, emotional teachers and parents, and a lot of champagne. During summer it's common to see the Student Transport (Studenterkørsel) driving around Denmark with loud music and partying students. Each class rides on either a tractor/or open truck, stopping along the way at every student's house for snacks and drinks prepared by parents and friends.

Education in English

If you've moved to Denmark with a teenager who is still coming to grips with the language, you're not alone. There are over twenty private and public schools in Denmark that offer the International Baccalaureate (IB) that you can choose from. Visit this website for more information:

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