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Old 02.05.2021, 20:20
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Are private gymnasiums [schools] a complete solution or just a small remedy?

My SO is very concerned about all the stories we hear about stress many kids experience in elementary schools. My solution was we can try sending them to private gymnasiums (in ZG) but I am not sure if I am missing something (beside the costs)? Do these private high schools provide good education?


Is the only difference that you need money and not excellence to get enrolled?


Thank you very much!
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Old 02.05.2021, 21:34
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Re: Are private gymnasiums a complete solution or just a small remedy?

Hello, and welcome.
These questions have been asked by many others, and there's lots of discussion on this forum about the pros and concs of putting one's children into the local, free, government schools in the local language, or into a fee-paying, private school, which may or may not be an international school.

For a short summary, please see:
https://www.englishforum.ch/3115192-post2.html

and for much more, I'd like to recommend the following threads (and there are others), for a wide range of opinions, as part of what might help you make your choises for your children:
https://www.englishforum.ch/educatio...l-schools.html
https://www.englishforum.ch/educatio...iscussion.html
https://www.englishforum.ch/educatio...ng-zurich.html

There is no "one size fits all" solution, and it is a matter of the child's individual personality and abilities and, at least in part, a question of the parents' personal preferences and attitudes, and the extent to which they are able to enter into cooperation with the school(s).
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Old 02.05.2021, 21:53
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Re: Are private gymnasiums a complete solution or just a small remedy?

Can only add, that my daughter earned her grades in the state Gymi system. She finished her masters, has a couple of published papers presented in conferences Worldwide, and was offered a doctorate post in Zurich in Business Information Systems before completing her masters, which she declined.

The friends that she grew up with, in Zurich private or Swiss Boarding schools - many with very privileged parents, unlike me as a single Mom, mostly ended up with blue or pink hair, nose rings, recovering from bulimia etc. Sorry, I‘d like to tell a different story, but it‘s true.

I was scared stiff of my daughter going to the state school system, as she‘s also not an alpha tier. But she absolutely thrived. Be quick on your decision - places in Zurich are becoming hard to get.
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Old 02.05.2021, 22:01
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Re: Are private gymnasiums a complete solution or just a small remedy?

It's a tough question - but most Swiss people and future employers will see a private gymnasium being for rich parents with kids who are not able to make the grade.

Last edited by JackieH; 04.05.2021 at 09:49.
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Old 02.05.2021, 22:22
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Re: Are private gymnasiums a complete solution or just a small remedy?

Thank you, doropfiz. I read all the content I can find, and I will make sure I go over these threads too.

ZuriRollt, kudos to you! I love to hear about talented kids. Would you say that private high schools have the issue of input (kids going to these schools are not as capable as kids going to public gymnasiums) or the issue of environment (lower expectations, underpaying professors, lack of motivation by "rich" kids to learn)?

JackieH, are you sure about it? Do both public and private high schools have same access to ETH and universities?
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Old 02.05.2021, 22:36
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Re: Are private gymnasiums a complete solution or just a small remedy?

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My SO is very concerned about all the stories we hear about stress many kids experience in elementary schools. My solution was we can try sending them to private gymnasiums (in ZG) but I am not sure if I am missing something (beside the costs)? Do these private high schools provide good education?

Is the only difference that you need money and not excellence to get enrolled?

Thank you very much!
Our teen is happy in a public Gymi. The stressed kids are often pushed there by their parents. If a Gymi is the right place for them, they‘ll take the academics in their stride. That said, public as well as private Gymis come in many varieties. Some of the private schools have excellent reputations (in ZH, e.g. Unterstrass), some far flakier ones. IMHO it‘d be important to cater to your child‘s strengths and preferences. The best way of preventing stress might be to signal clearly that it’s OK not to attend a Gymi and that you love them no matter what. (Sorry! This is probably superfluous. You‘d be surprised at the pressure we see some folks putting on their poor offspring.)
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Old 02.05.2021, 22:39
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Re: Are private gymnasiums a complete solution or just a small remedy?

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. The best way of preventing stress might be to signal clearly that it’s OK not to attend a Gymi and that you love them no matter what. (Sorry! This is probably superfluous. You‘d be surprised at the pressure we see some folks putting on their poor offspring.)
Yes, this over and over again! Thank you.
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Old 02.05.2021, 22:52
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Re: Are private gymnasiums a complete solution or just a small remedy?

What kind of stress is there in elementary schools? Elementary is grade 1 to 6, right?
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Old 02.05.2021, 23:17
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Re: Are private gymnasiums a complete solution or just a small remedy?

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Thank you, doropfiz. I read all the content I can find, and I will make sure I go over these threads too.

ZuriRollt, kudos to you! I love to hear about talented kids. Would you say that private high schools have the issue of input (kids going to these schools are not as capable as kids going to public gymnasiums) or the issue of environment (lower expectations, underpaying professors, lack of motivation by "rich" kids to learn)?

JackieH, are you sure about it? Do both public and private high schools have same access to ETH and universities?
I really can‘t answer that - my daughter is not particularly „talented“ by the way - she did as well as the other girls in her state Gymi. They all seem to have started on either the academic, medical or other professional routes. That‘s something truly great about Switzerland (and I‘m a sceptic), the education system is good, Universities are ranked in the Worlds top, and available to all, at almost no cost. What is important is the parents support. I never once pressured my daughter, or even had to make sure she did homework. Just supported her and her environment within my means.

I can only speak of my experiences. Of course the children going to private schools have equal potential as anyone, but from my experience, the expectations and peer pressure alters that learning and growing process. And, I believe from what I‘ve seen in many cases over a couple of decades, that can very negatively influence it.

My daughter had many friends that she grew-up with that went to Swiss private or Swiss boarding schools. My daughter also went to one for a semester in preparation for her Gymi entrance exams following private Montessori schooling. She hated it - all the peer pressure of the next sailing trip in the school break etc. seemed to be the main focus (that was not a theme for us). But strangely, of all the 5 good friends that she grew-up with during that time, (all of which I took on vacations abroad with us at some time or other that they loved), all really have not been able (or wanted) to establish a career for themselves. Despite their mothers being renowned in their respective fields of medicine, film production or music for example. They have all opted to not really want to pursue anything.

The friends my daughter made in state Gymi however, and have also remained her friends over several years, are more targeted, know what they want, and why. They have all succeeded in establishing an independent life for themselves. But all my daughters friends that only went to private schools haven‘t. Maybe it‘s just a coincidence, but it‘s a noticeable one.

In Switzerland, there is definitely a stigma about having attended only private schools on your resume however - it is frowned on by future Swiss employers because of the implications that you were not good enough to pass the exams for the state school system.
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Old 02.05.2021, 23:43
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Re: Are private gymnasiums a complete solution or just a small remedy?

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Yes, this over and over again! Thank you.
Yes, 100% - let the child choose which way they want to go. Who cares if they would prefer to be a carpenter or a scientist - what’s important is that the parent(s) have enabled them enough in their life to be able to take the decision for themselves. They already know at age 13, really (no, this is not sarcastic). They know what they are comfortably capable of at this age, and what they are not.
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Old 03.05.2021, 00:37
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Re: Are private gymnasiums a complete solution or just a small remedy?

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JackieH, are you sure about it? Do both public and private high schools have same access to ETH and universities?
afaik, providing one has met the curriculum requirements of a Swiss matura and the required language competency, access to ETH and other CH universities the same. Not to be overlooked regardless of whether a state or private gymnasium is the reality that all who meet requirements must be accepted, roughly 50% of admitted students pass the first year and are allowed to continue.
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Old 03.05.2021, 02:21
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Re: Are private gymnasiums a complete solution or just a small remedy?

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What kind of stress is there in elementary schools? Elementary is grade 1 to 6, right?
The stress is knowing that there will be the selection to go to "Sekundarschule" or to "Gymnasium" (Gymi). And having their parents drill them towards this, sometimes with great force.

Sadly, some parents - especially if they come from countries in which attending university is regarded (in general, or by the particular parents) as the "only really valid" option - pressurise their children during their primary school years, trying to push them to pass the entrance exams into Gymi, even if that isn't what would really be the best for the child... themselves believing, and therefore teaching their children, that if they don't get into Gymi and don't get a degree, they will have amounted to nothing.

As missenglish and Zurirollt have said, however, the academically oriented children will learn, by themselves. And as many posts on this forum have set out, completing an apprenticeship can be a fine thing, and a qualified electrician, hairdresser, carpenter, nurse, painter or plumber can live off their salary.

Those children whose parents explain to them that the whole range of types of vocational training is available to school-leavers in Switzerland in general (and therefore also to them) and that some (but by no means all) will want to go on to university, do their children a favour.

Last edited by doropfiz; 03.05.2021 at 06:30.
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Old 03.05.2021, 07:32
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Re: Are private gymnasiums a complete solution or just a small remedy?

One of my daughters dropped out at 16 have completed secondary education. She's now got a degree in French and German, and is studying for a Pedagogy degree and plans to be a primary teacher for a few years. Then after a few year do masters and a PhD in Pedagogy.

The other went from Primary to Real... to Secondary to Gym. Then dropped out of Gym did an apprenticeship and is now studying for a Pharmaceutical Engineering degree, and plans on doing a Masters afterwards.

There's plenty of routes for children of many differing abilities. It doesn't have to be pro-gym, gym, university. (My son did that. )
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Old 03.05.2021, 08:53
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Re: Are private gymnasiums a complete solution or just a small remedy?

I don't think the stress is that bad as long as it is managed, and I don't think it's any different in private or state school.

Our experience is that as parents you need to support them more than we had as kids. I have no idea if this is a Swiss / non-Swiss thing but I suspect it is more the modern approach to "independent" learning and also the range of stuff they cover.

I don't remember my parents being involved any more than the obligatory "have you done your homework?" "yes" "ok" sort of thing.

But in the last couple of years of primary (ca. age 10-12) and onwards they need to do work at home and they need to learn how to summarise and get at the key points to learn. And to start learning a topic early, not leave it to the last minute.

When we work with ours it is fine - making sure the topics have been read through, basic details memorized and/or practiced. Then if they get specific learning goals a bit later it isn't a huge amount of work to suddenly do before a test.

We also learned that all the kids tell each other they don't do much work at home. They are all lying (other parents have confirmed they do loads), probably because it isn't cool.
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Old 03.05.2021, 09:04
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Re: Are private gymnasiums a complete solution or just a small remedy?

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What kind of stress is there in elementary schools? Elementary is grade 1 to 6, right?
1 to 5 here.

Tom
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Old 03.05.2021, 09:39
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Re: Are private gymnasiums a complete solution or just a small remedy?

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My SO is very concerned about all the stories we hear about stress many kids experience in elementary schools. My solution was we can try sending them to private gymnasiums (in ZG) but I am not sure if I am missing something (beside the costs)? Do these private high schools provide good education?


Is the only difference that you need money and not excellence to get enrolled?


Thank you very much!
Disclaimer: I don't have experience with the school choice you've mentioned

Make educational decisions on what's best for your child, emotionally and academically, long term.

I've seen children thrive in a variety of situations. I've known excellent students who attended private schools and public schools, and students who've struggled in both settings.

What are your child's strengths and weaknesses? How is he coping with his current educational situation? Are you planning to stay in Switzerland forever or is there a possibility of moving elsewhere? If university is your goal for him, would he attend in Switzerland or abroad (understanding that he might decide he doesn't want to go/isn't interested)? Does your visa situation allow him to stay/return to Switzerland post-education to work?

The best you can do is provide solid educational opportunities, and leave it to your child to make the most of the opportunities provided.
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Old 03.05.2021, 09:41
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Re: Are private gymnasiums a complete solution or just a small remedy?

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mostly ended up with blue or pink hair, nose rings, recovering from bulimia etc.
Blue/pink hair and nose rings are indicative of...?
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Old 03.05.2021, 09:48
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Re: Are private gymnasiums a complete solution or just a small remedy?

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The stress is knowing that there will be the selection to go to "Sekundarschule" or to "Gymnasium" (Gymi). And having their parents drill them towards this, sometimes with great force.

Sadly, some parents - especially if they come from countries in which attending university is regarded (in general, or by the particular parents) as the "only really valid" option - pressurise their children during their primary school years, trying to push them to pass the entrance exams into Gymi, even if that isn't what would really be the best for the child... themselves believing, and therefore teaching their children, that if they don't get into Gymi and don't get a degree, they will have amounted to nothing.

As missenglish and Zurirollt have said, however, the academically oriented children will learn, by themselves. And as many posts on this forum have set out, completing an apprenticeship can be a fine thing, and a qualified electrician, hairdresser, carpenter, nurse, painter or plumber can live off their salary.

Those children whose parents explain to them that the whole range of types of vocational training is available to school-leavers in Switzerland in general (and therefore also to them) and that some (but by no means all) will want to go on to university, do their children a favour.
I don't know about that.

As a kid growing up, my parents (well, my mum) always made clear they had expectations I would do very well in school - prizes, straight As, Oxbridge etc. If I was top of the class the question would be "why didn't you get 100%". They were disappointed when I "coasted" my GCSEs somewhat and got ok, but not stellar grades. I got back on track at A level.

They've now got three successful happy kids. My little brother, who is the least academic of the three probably benefitted the most from the pressure.

On the other hand, my cousins got the "we don't mind as long as you are happy" attitude and now they are struggling a bit more in real life. It's not an easy world out there.

Im certainly going to employ the former technique. My wife is Chinese and like most people from that part of the world high academic success is very important to her. Sure, not everyone is talented at every subject, but you can make up for a talent shortage by working at it. Telling your kids it's not ok to flunk exams and become a hairdresser shows them the greatest amount of love, in my view.

Last edited by HickvonFrick; 03.05.2021 at 10:06.
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Old 03.05.2021, 09:50
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Re: Are private gymnasiums a complete solution or just a small remedy?

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Blue/pink hair and nose rings are indicative of...?
Rebellion! And acceptance that the job market is not ready for you, or is it that you are not ready for the job market?
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Old 03.05.2021, 09:57
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Re: Are private gymnasiums a complete solution or just a small remedy?

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Rebellion! And acceptance that the job market is not ready for you, or is it that you are not ready for the job market?
The job market for high school age is a tad limited, innit. By the time they apply to a real job, most "kids" look the part.
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