What Is a Folk High School?

Folk high schools (folkehøgskole) are often called the world's freest schools. These schools have no grades, no rigid curriculum and no exams. We happen to believe that you learn better without this kind of pressure.

At a folk high school, you get to practice your subject, not merely immerse yourself in its theory. Supervised and encouraged by dedicated teachers, you find yourself a member of a small class, generally consisting of only 10 to 20 students.

A folk high school year lasts nine months, from August to May. Most often, student attend a school right after graduating from high school (upper secondary school). Most folk high school students are between 18 and 25 years, but few schools accept 16-year-olds, too. No folk high school has an upper age limit.

Life at a Folk High School

Folk high schools are boarding schools; in others words, you live on campus in a dormitory. You sleep and eat on campus. In the dormitories, there are the single or double rooms; some rooms have their own bathroom, while other rooms have shared bathrooms in the hallway. Usually, there are also common rooms and a kitchen in your dormitory unit. All regular meals are served in the dining hall where you eat with the other students.

We believe that living with the students you would go to school with, creates an outstanding learning situation. By sharing accommodations with people who are different from yourself you learn to work together and handle problems. You also get to know your fellow students in a completely different way when you are with them around the clock.

Folk high schools are is not just about academics and subjects. Social life also plays a big part in the year at a folk high school. The school organizes student events, ice-breaker trips and other social events.

You have the use of the school's common rooms, classrooms and equipment after school. There is always something to do and always someone else who wants do things, too. You may opt for a spur-of-the moment evening outing, a volleyball game, a film, a board game, a birthday party in the dormitory common room, or just sitting down with a cup of coffee, chatting or discussing things until well after supper.

Most schools also provide organized activities in the evenings, such as choir, football training, evening meetings, discussion groups or short courses in various fields.

School Year - Start and End

The folk high school year starts in middle or late August and lasts until the middle of May.

A few schools offer half-year (semester) courses, starting in middle or late August or early January. If you are interested in half-year courses, you should contact us.

If You Don´t Speak Norwegian

Most classes are taught in Norwegian. However, many schools offer Norwegian courses, and nearly everyone of the staff and students speaks English, which can be helpful in the beginning. After this school year, you can expect to understand and speak Norwegian reasonably well. The level of proficiency will of course depend on your own efforts, but living in a Norwegian-speaking environment gives you great advantage when learning it. At some schools, you may select Norwegian language and culture as a major subject or as an elective. In the latter case, you are free to choose between the other major subjects offered.

Find a School That Is Right for You

Today, 11 percent of Norwegian youths elect a year at a folk high school, and the number of applicants has increased steadily over the past 10 years. There are 80 folk high schools in Norway and you find them all over the country. Some schools offer a wide range of subjects, while others focus on one particular field or subject area. This may be music, sports, outdoor life or theater. Schools have from 30 to over 200 students. In addition to the subject-matter diversity, schools have also different profiles and build on specific values. This is a choice each school makes for itself. A folk high school aspires to something – and stands for something! Some schools build on a Christian foundation, while others – they are called liberal schools – are not based on one particular belief or faith.

Christian Schools

Most Christian folk high schools are either owned by or closely connected with Christian organizations or denominations. At the Christian folk high schools, the teaching and the school’s other program are based at a Christian worldview. Some schools have Christianity as a mandatory subject, and many will offer voluntary get-togethers with a Christian content, such as bible study groups and meetings.

Liberal Schools

The liberal folk high schools have no a particular faith or worldview as a starting point. The schools’ core values are linked to established values common in Norwegian culture and in human rights. The wording of its core values, and the way these basic values are reflected in  school life, may vary. The liberal folk high schools are owned by foundations, organizations or counties.

If you want to know more about the profile of a school, or how its basic values make their mark on it, you can check their webpage here or the school website. Or you may contact the school directly and ask. Both liberal and Christian folk high schools welcome students with different interests and beliefs.

See all the folk high schools

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A Year at a Folk High School

The class timetables may vary throughout the year, and during the week you usually have classes in your major subjects, electives, as well as the mandatory all-school joint classes.

Sample Schedule

Morning Assembly

At morning assembly, the whole school gathers for a common start. It may consist of reflections for the day, singing, practical information, news items, and contributions from the students.

Major Subject

Your major is the subject you choose when you apply to a folk high school. The number of class hours in the major courses varies from school to school, and it also depends on whether you have one or two majors.

Joint Classes

These are scheduled classes that all students at the school attend together. They can be anything, from literature, choir, dance, physical activity, social science, Saturday seminars and philosophy.

Saturday Classes

At all the folk high schools, mandatory classes are conducted on some Saturdays. Often, classes last about four hours and can include anything from seminars to workshops and field trips.

Elective Subjects

Electives allow you to enjoy and learn other topics and fields than your major subject. It varies between the schools how many hours of electives you have a week, and also the number of electives to choose from.

After School Activities

Folk high schools provide social activities, such as movie nights, sports, discussion groups, theater, dance, tours and lectures. Some of the activities are arranged by the school, while others are based on the students taking the initiative.

Shared meals

There are typically four meals a day, and most are eaten together in the dining hall.

Student Shows

Communal entertainment events held by and for students and staff at school.

Annual Events

Field Trips

Communal field trips for all students. This could include city tours, hikes, boat rides and ice-breaker trips.

Study Tours

Some schools arrange joint study tours for all students. Often, there are separate tours for each major subject as well.

Project Weeks

Some schools join or arrange large projects where all students participate.

Extended Weekends

During the school year there are several long weekends where you have the opportunity to go home or take a break from school.

Holidays

Schools usually close for four holidays: Autumn, Christmas, winter and Easter holidays.

Eight reasons to attend a folk high school:

We use Instagram to show what happens at all folk high schools, these are mostly photos that students and teachers have taken.