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Old 22.02.2013, 11:47
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What options for a 17 year old?

My 17 year old is not going to pass her 2nd year in Kollegium (Gymnasium). She is very bright but cannot get along in a couple of the subjects and so cannot obtain the necessary 4 or over to pass into the next year.

She is certain that she wants to study law and economics at university so the question is, how can she get there? Her main interest is in human rights but I do not see her sitting in an office. She is also interested in psychology and is a talented musician. There is no question of her going to a private school. We are in Wallis and she speaks good German (after 5 years). The careers office advised her to attend the art school as her only option to get to university. Surely there is another way? She has very little interest in art.

Thank you.

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Old 22.02.2013, 12:09
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Re: What options for a 17 year old?

I really cannot see another way than passing the Abi. What subjects and how many is she weak in? Best to re-take the year and get help some way or another to help her pass those subjects. Or move to the UK.
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Old 22.02.2013, 12:22
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Re: What options for a 17 year old?

Let her go back to Sekundarschule and apply for a Kaufmännische Lehre. She can either do the Berufsmatura directly together with the Kaufmännische Lehre or after she has received the Kaufmännische Lehre. Once she obtained the Berufsmatura she can enter the Fachhochschule (University of Applied Sciences). She can study Business Law at the Universities of Applied Sciences in Winterthur (ZHAW) or at the HSLU in Lucerne (both in German with some subjects taught in English) or at the HEC-Arc(Neuchatel, in French) . Check their homepage for more information. All of them offer the possibility to study abroad with Erasmus like the univiersities. After she has received the Bachelor she can continue her education at the university if she wants. There is a Passarelle for those students at the universities if they want to study law. She will have to redo some courses of their bachelor programms but can start as well with Master subjects.

So if she really wants to go down that road it's possible, and doable, I have done the same. Feel free to tell your daughter to PM me once she has done some research on that matter. After all she is old enough to do so herself.

Hope that helps!
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Old 22.02.2013, 12:32
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Re: What options for a 17 year old?

Hi Odile, Thank you for your reply. She has repeated already because her German was not strong enough. Only one repeat is allowed. She is weak in French, Biology and Italian.
Is the one repeat only rule a nationwide one? (we are only 30 mins from Thun so another Kanton is possible)
Overall she will achieve a 3.7 or 3.8.
Do all Gymnasiums have such a broad curriculum? (this is only relevant if there is somewhere she could go for a further repeat).
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Old 22.02.2013, 12:41
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Re: What options for a 17 year old?


Hi Irish T. Thank you for your response. Can you clarify for me what youmean by return to secondary school? Do you mean go back to the OS? Or justleave Kollegium and go the next step? And what is a Kaufmännische Lehre - doyou mean Handelschule or that she should go and find an actual apprenticeship?
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Old 22.02.2013, 13:15
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Re: What options for a 17 year old?

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Hi Irish T. Thank you for your response. Can you clarify for me what youmean by return to secondary school? Do you mean go back to the OS? Or justleave Kollegium and go the next step? And what is a Kaufmännische Lehre - doyou mean Handelschule or that she should go and find an actual apprenticeship?
Return to secondary school means to go back to the OS (Orientierungschule).
She has at least to finish the third year to get a regular diploma. W/o it will be very difficult to find an apprenticeship. Kaufmännische Lehre a.k.a. KV is an apprenticeship which takes 3 years. More informaion on the KV Schweiz website. But you said "but I do not see her sitting in an office" unfortunately that is exactly what the KV actually is.

PS: Schooling is a Cantonal topic. Everyone is different, especially regarding admission to Gymnasium.

PPS: Even a complete drop out has the possibility to attend university once he think he is fit for it. Because the Matura can be done at any age.
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Old 22.02.2013, 13:39
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Re: What options for a 17 year old?

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She is weak in French, Biology and Italian.
I think it's crazy that being weak in these subjects can stop here studying law and economics.
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Old 22.02.2013, 13:48
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Re: What options for a 17 year old?

Crazy? Perhaps. I certainly cannot remember a thing my older brother taught me to pass in physics and chemistry!!! But this is the same in Europe- a very broad curriculum up to 18. With all the positives and negs it entails. The opposite is the English A'Level system where students study 4 subjects in Year 12 and then ONLY 3 in Year 13 - normally very specialised in one area only combinations. Like 'maths, chemistry, physics' or 'French, German, History' or even 'Music, Art and Design'. It does mean students can access Uni to study even if not academic as per the latter example - which is why the UK has so many excellent designers, etc. But it also means that most students have a very poor grasp of the world beyond - and such poor performances in languages and basic maths, etc.

I think the Scottish system is a great compromise between the two.
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Old 22.02.2013, 13:49
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Re: What options for a 17 year old?

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Is the one repeat only rule a nationwide one?
I do not think so as Canton Vaud has multiple repeaters, too many for my taste, as I think they overuse it. However, not sure if it is more limited at the gym. level. But in future, I think this is one of those things tightened by HaromoS, canton harmonisation, something like one repeat rule, but jumping through a lot of hoops a second repeat may exceptionally be allowed.
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Old 22.02.2013, 13:53
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Re: What options for a 17 year old?

Boarding school in your home country, maybe that could be an option?
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Old 22.02.2013, 13:53
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Re: What options for a 17 year old?

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Hi Irish T. Thank you for your response. Can you clarify for me what youmean by return to secondary school? Do you mean go back to the OS? Or justleave Kollegium and go the next step? And what is a Kaufmännische Lehre - doyou mean Handelschule or that she should go and find an actual apprenticeship?
Sekundarschule is the one below the matura stream, could be that it is called Orientierungsschule in Wallis. In Zurich it' called Sekundarschule. Maybe she is also too old for that if she's already 17. She can try to find an apprenticeship directly but it might be difficult. Handelsschule is similar but private. There are several options for Handelsschule, also in English as far as I know. There is also the Hotel-Handelsschule. More information on that can be found here http://www.hotel-handelsschulen.ch/

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Return to secondary school means to go back to the OS (Orientierungschule).
She has at least to finish the third year to get a regular diploma. W/o it will be very difficult to find an apprenticeship. Kaufmännische Lehre a.k.a. KV is an apprenticeship which takes 3 years. More informaion on the KV Schweiz website. But you said "but I do not see her sitting in an office" unfortunately that is exactly what the KV actually is.

PPS: Even a complete drop out has the possibility to attend university once he think he is fit for it. Because the Matura can be done at any age.
Handelsschule might be another option but in order to enter the Universities of Applied Sciences she NEEDS a Kaufmännischer Lehrabschluss. Therefore if she wants to do that she now needs to do the Handelsdiplom (and work one here in an "office") or do the Kaufmännische Lehre.

Yes there is also the Kantonale Maturitätschsschule für Erwachsene (KME in Zurich, will be called differently but something similarly in your canton) but the principle is the same, she will have to take all subjects to the same level. Which is why the Berufsmaturität might suit her better. If she does the Kaufmännische Berufsmaturität (which is the one she needs if she wants to study Business Law after) there won't be Italian and Biology - but still French.

But honestly, she's 17, let her do some of the research!
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Old 22.02.2013, 14:03
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Re: What options for a 17 year old?

I would add my voice to the call that she should be doing her own research. I also have trouble matching up a 'business/law' degree with 'not liking sitting in an office' - because I am struggling to think of any job with that professional training that doesn't involve a lot of office work (and a lot of language skills as well)....

Law and economics are extremely word/vocabulary heavy courses. Is her English a lot stronger than her German and French ? I assume her biology in German is weak, because Biology requires a lot of giftedness with language - processing and comprehending new vocabulary, so actually I can understand why she finds herself weak in that area.

If she is really keen about human rights, then perhaps she should look at doing a volunteer work or some other study in a big human rights organisation, to see what her niche might be. I am trained as a community worked, but gifted in administration and english language skills, and I tell you, there are plenty of workers at the 'coal face', who have a passion for what they do, but struggle to get funding or handle the necessary paperwork on a daily basis - I think you need both to do it well...

Berufsmatura is the key to entry to the applied sciences. Psychology in my experience is totally english-dominated, but a really tough undergraduate full of people who would 'love' to be psychologists, and far fewer 'real' jobs at the end...
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Old 22.02.2013, 14:04
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Re: What options for a 17 year old?

She can always try to marry rich... Or back to school/learning and pursuing her goals.
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Old 22.02.2013, 14:17
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Re: What options for a 17 year old?

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Handelsschule might be another option but in order to enter the Universities of Applied Sciences she NEEDS a Kaufmännischer Lehrabschluss. Therefore if she wants to do that she now needs to do the Handelsdiplom (and work one here in an "office") or do the Kaufmännische Lehre.
Handelsmittelschule will give you the same. (At least in Zurich.)

Universities of Applied Sciences do not need a Kaufmännischer Lehrabschluss, but a Berufsmatura of a specific flavor or any Berufsmatura or Matura plus practical experience in the relevant field.
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Old 22.02.2013, 14:40
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Re: What options for a 17 year old?

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I think it's crazy that being weak in these subjects can stop here studying law and economics.
I agree.

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Boarding school in your home country, maybe that could be an option?
This is what I was thinking. Either she goes into international school here or boarding school in an English speaking country.

At 17, how many years does she have left? One/two? IIRC, boarding school in the UK is less expensive than just the tuition at the international schools.
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Old 22.02.2013, 15:30
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Re: What options for a 17 year old?

Thank you for these replies. She can go to my mum and attend 6th form but she does not want to. Neither does she want to sit at home and do A levels by post (which I think of as the easiest and simplest option).
Swisspea, you are right about the German and the biology! She has found learning German an uphill struggle and of course, out on the street it is Walliserdeutsch (and when she was in the OS: lessons (unofficially) in WD, exam in HD which was hard for a child just arrived from the UK with no foreign language skill).

She is doing her research - although as I say, the careers advice are suggesting art school.

Don't forget how difficult 17 year olds can be. I want to be able to guide her in a direction I have found out about and decided would be good, without her realising it is my idea.
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Old 22.02.2013, 15:33
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Re: What options for a 17 year old?

Here are a few ideas :

You said she is weak in French, Italian and biology... as far as I know Italian is not an obligatory language (especially if she take English) so she could do a summer internship in French speaking Switzerland or in France during the summer and private tuition for biology and repeat the year. Ideally in an other school.

I grew up in Wallis (near Sion) and lot of my friends said that our Gymnasium are harder than the first year of Uni....

At her place I would do the Commercial school, she may be able to enter in 2nd year and pass with less difficulties. She would need to do a commercial maturity and then she could go to University (for buisness and law).

Or she could do a Kaufmänische Lehrling (commercial apprentship) idealy in a law firm, it would be a great experience to see if she want to do that, I know that in Bern the swiss confederation take apprentice, so maybe in an ONG. Only problem there is that Wallis isn't the best place for that (Geneva, Bern or Zürich are).
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Old 22.02.2013, 15:43
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Re: What options for a 17 year old?

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Thank you for these replies. She can go to my mum and attend 6th form but she does not want to. Neither does she want to sit at home and do A levels by post (which I think of as the easiest and simplest option).


I remember being 17. I was thrilled to be out of my parents home and in my first year of university!

Sometimes kids need to do what they don't want to. Realistically she needs to think about where she will be going to university. It seems it will probably be an English language one. So, best she gets her A levels.

If she doesn't want to live away and she doesn't want to drop local school, can she do the correspondence course A levels as well as continuing to go to local school? At least that way, she can get OK grades in local school and still get enough A levels to go to university?
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Old 22.02.2013, 15:49
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Re: What options for a 17 year old?

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I want to be able to guide her in a direction I have found out about and decided would be good, without her realising it is my idea.
Good luck with that!

My parents thought in similar ways; I reckon probably all parents of teenagers do. Used to drive me absolutely nuts. It's never as imperceptible as the parents think it is.

In the end I usually went along with their suggestions as they did have some pretty sensible ideas - but I resented doing so. I'd have felt a lot more respected if they'd actually come straight out with their information and advice instead of trying to maneuver me into it, pretending to 'discover' all these fabulous opportunities etc.

Of course YTMV - Your Teenager May Vary. anyway as I said before, good luck!
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Old 22.02.2013, 15:52
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Re: What options for a 17 year old?

MiniMia, If only I could sit and do the work for her. It all seems to easy to me to sit, study and take a few A levels (I did that), but then I didn't really have the lure of a massive social life and endless concerts.
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