The Journey Begins


Our group will be visiting Germany and the Netherlands as part of Ferris State University’s Doctorate in Community College Leadership (DCCL) Program.  This trip and the accompanying learning activities were offered as an option to fulfill the program’s Practicum requirement.  Our group, which consists of current and alumni DCCL students and two leaders, will travel Feb. 1-9, 2019.  We will stay in Kleve, Germany, a small city located close to the border with the Netherlands.  We will travel back and forth between Germany and the Netherlands to learn about both country’s systems of higher education.  As preparation for the trip, we are participating in videoconferences, reading about both countries, and preparing presentations about US higher education.

One of the things that stood out to me from this week’s reading is learning that the Netherlands has universal early childhood education.  This is striking to me because early childhood programming is something that I have recently begun advocating for in my work with our area’s End Childhood Poverty Campaign.  According to Wilson (2016), for children of low-income families, quality early childhood and preschool programming correlates with better school outcomes at all levels, including higher rates of literacy and less likelihood of dropping out of high school and interacting with the criminal justice system.  Netherlands has one of the highest rates of early childhood education in the world, and the country’s educational and literacy outcomes are also amongst the world’s highest (OECD 2014), and accompanying low rates of young people neither in employment nor in education or training (NEET), with only 7% of 15-29 year-olds qualifying as NEET.  This compares very favorably to the U.S., which, as of 2015, had a NEET rate of 15% (OECD 2016).   These figures seem to indicate that the future for the Netherlands will be much brighter than ours in the U.S.

child blocks


Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (2014).  Country note: Netherlands. Retrieved from

Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (2016).  Society at a glance 2016: a spotlight on youth.  Retrieved from

Wilson, R. (2016).  Literacy and its significance in modern life.  Colleagues, 13(1), 9-16. Retrieved from =1250&context=colleagues

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