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Old 11.05.2009, 15:43
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Swiss Local Schools vs American(!) Public Schools

Hi there,

I haven't posted in quite awhile, but I've got a new BIG issue. We are trying to decide the best future for our kids.

We are here on a local contract (4 years now) and our children have just finished up their first year of public school. It's gone wonderfully and we love it.

The issue is, we kind of have a now or never opportunity to move back to the States. It's a reasonable school district there.

We're just trying to figure out which will give our kids the best opportunity for their future. -- University, etc.

We love the lifestyle here, love the fact that they take themselves to school, love the fact they come home for lunch, love the KG and the primary school. Just -- are we putting their likelihood of attending university at risk?

I think they're pretty smart, but I'm their parent. So far there have been no issues. I just wonder if 5 years from now if I'll be kicking myself for going down this path.

Has anyone here ever had to make a similar choice?

Thanks!
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Old 11.05.2009, 15:56
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Re: Swiss Local Schools vs American(!) Public Schools

Well the universities here have a good reputation, attract some of the big names, due to the incentives these cash rich universities can offer them and have excellent facilities for students. Another plus side is, if your children do show the potential for an academic career, it is not going to cost you the same as it would back in the USA.

If you like it here as much as you say you do, then the higher education system here should not be a barrier to staying.

Gal x
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Old 11.05.2009, 15:58
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Re: Swiss Local Schools vs American(!) Public Schools

We went through this dilemma, but with different choice of countries, and the general answer we found logical for us was: do we see ourselves staying here for the rest of our lives? If the answer is yes, then this country is a better place, if no, then now would be the time to move as it is very disruptive for the children to move while they are already following a certain school system. This is, in my personal opinion, more important than which country's school system is better.
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Old 11.05.2009, 15:59
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Re: Swiss Local Schools vs American(!) Public Schools

well... it may seem like a now or never decision right now- but there are always opportunities to go back if you really wanted to. it is a hard decision to make. honestly i chose to come here partly for my son- i think that the lifestyle in switzerland allows me more time and more energy to spend with him. that being said- we will always worry about doing the best for them and kicking ourselves in the future- this is inevitable. for me, i think the best thing i can do for mine is give him my time (stress free!) and my love and affection. after this, he is already ahead of the game, and really happy!

good luck!
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Old 11.05.2009, 16:00
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Re: Swiss Local Schools vs American(!) Public Schools

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We love the lifestyle here, love the fact that they take themselves to school, love the fact they come home for lunch, love the KG and the primary school. Just -- are we putting their likelihood of attending university at risk?

Has anyone here ever had to make a similar choice?
If you stay here - Swiss Universities are good, cheap and internationally accepted. Your kids could just go to University here. If you go back: there's really not much of a problem studying in the US for someone who has been through the Swiss public school system. Your kids will probably be required to take the SAT (which they would be in the USA as well) and in addition to that the TOEFL (which really is a very minor annoyance, I did that my self. For a native speaker it's a joke).

Of course they'll be required to have a Swiss Matura to study here or abroad.

I guess it depends on when you're planning on going back. Going back to the States, say, a year before your kids would graduate from High School, would probably not be the best thing. It's still doable, though - I went to school in Switzerland all my life and went straight to 12th grade in the US. I was still able to graduate normally and could have gone to college in the US (which never happened as I had to go back to Switzerland and ended up going to University here, but that's a different story).

Peter
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Old 11.05.2009, 16:08
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Re: Swiss Local Schools vs American(!) Public Schools

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the general answer we found logical for us was: do we see ourselves staying here for the rest of our lives?
I definitely agree with this. That's where I think the now or never comes in. I don't want to flip around in 5 years. I think they are early enough on now that we can decide direction like -- now.

I think the universities here are great and would have no problem with the US universities. I am mostly concerned about the low number of maturas -- I've heard from 10 to 25%. I have no idea what the competition is like.

I guess, what I'm wondering is how difficult will it be to get the Matura? With a good amount of effort and a decent amount of brains, is it still fairly difficult?

We could probably say then that we would stay here the rest of our lives.
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Old 11.05.2009, 16:10
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Re: Swiss Local Schools vs American(!) Public Schools

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...
We could probably say then that we would stay here the rest of our lives.
Seems the right decision then. After all, maybe your kids want to be carpenters, or Rabbis, or Karate Instructors...
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Old 11.05.2009, 16:13
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Re: Swiss Local Schools vs American(!) Public Schools

I really am a Newbie. Found all of your posts helpful -- just don't know how to 'thank.'
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Old 11.05.2009, 16:14
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Re: Swiss Local Schools vs American(!) Public Schools

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I think the universities here are great and would have no problem with the US universities. I am mostly concerned about the low number of maturas -- I've heard from 10 to 25%. I have no idea what the competition is like.

I guess, what I'm wondering is how difficult will it be to get the Matura? With a good amount of effort and a decent amount of brains, is it still fairly difficult?
Well, a Matura is basically equivalent to the last 2 years of High School and perhaps the first 1-2 years of college. The drop-out rate isn't very high and any normally gifted person who's willing to give it the necessary effort will pass without major issues. There's no reason to worry about that.
Yes, the number of Maturas are relatively low. But that doesn't have anything to do with the degree of difficulty. The reason for this is simply: people here have a real choice between a Matura and an apprenticeship, which is also highly regarded here. Doing an apprenticeship doesn't mean you're dumb and you can still go to a technical University after having finished it.

As someone already mentioned above: what if your kids don't want to go to University? In that case, they're most definitely better off here. With a decent apprenticeship you can still make an excellent living in Switzerland. Also, Swiss artisans are in high demand abroad as well.

Peter
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Old 11.05.2009, 16:20
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Re: Swiss Local Schools vs American(!) Public Schools

Hi

I was in the public swiss school system (in Geneva) up to the age of 18 and then did a bilingual International Baccalaureate in two years at the International School (BTW I found the IB very easy compared to the swiss public schools) so there is room for flexibility. If one of your children is struggling in the public system or prefers to do an IB then you can always move her/him to a private school.
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Old 11.05.2009, 16:21
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Re: Swiss Local Schools vs American(!) Public Schools

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I really am a Newbie. Found all of your posts helpful -- just don't know how to 'thank.'
You'll get a Thanks and a Groan button when you've made 10 posts.
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Old 11.05.2009, 16:22
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Re: Swiss Local Schools vs American(!) Public Schools

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As someone already mentioned above: what if your kids don't want to go to University? In that case, they're most definitely better off here. With a decent apprenticeship you can still make an excellent living in Switzerland. Also, Swiss artisans are in high demand abroad as well.
I guess that's the reason why I'm concentrating on the Matura. I don't want to limit their future options. But, of course, after 10 years of living in CH, there's a high likelihood they would want to stay!
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Old 11.05.2009, 16:25
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Re: Swiss Local Schools vs American(!) Public Schools

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Well, a Matura is basically equivalent to the last 2 years of High School and perhaps the first 1-2 years of college. The drop-out rate isn't very high and any normally gifted person who's willing to give it the necessary effort will pass without major issues. There's no reason to worry about that.
Yes, the number of Maturas are relatively low. But that doesn't have anything to do with the degree of difficulty. The reason for this is simply: people here have a real choice between a Matura and an apprenticeship, which is also highly regarded here. Doing an apprenticeship doesn't mean your dumb and you can still go to a technical University after having finished it.

As someone already mentioned above: what if your kids don't want to go to University? In that case, they're most definitely better off here. With a decent apprenticeship you can still make an excellent living in Switzerland. Also, Swiss artisans are in high demand abroad as well.

Peter
Peter,

I've been looking for a short explanation of Suisse Matura for sometime now and your explanation is the best i got. Thanks.
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Old 11.05.2009, 16:34
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Re: Swiss Local Schools vs American(!) Public Schools

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Doing an apprenticeship doesn't mean you're dumb
Erm yes theoretically but when I was at school the intelligent people went on to do a Matura and the others were encouraged to do an apprenticeship. I suppose there were a few exceptions...but generally it was like that.
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Old 11.05.2009, 16:37
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Re: Swiss Local Schools vs American(!) Public Schools

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Erm yes theoretically but when I was at school the intelligent people went on to do a Matura and the others were encouraged to do an apprenticeship. I suppose there were a few exceptions...but generally it was like that.
But isn't that a sensible thing to do? Pushing pupils with less than adequate abilities to do an exam they are doomed to fail is a waste of everybody's time and effort.

If they are more suited to a different type of qualification, why shouldn't they be encouraged to take that course instead?
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Old 11.05.2009, 16:49
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Re: Swiss Local Schools vs American(!) Public Schools

But I know a lot who feel they were pushed in the other direction... and resented it. It was an uphill struggle to get matura and start uni much later in life for those who could afford the luxury of not working to do it at all.
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Old 11.05.2009, 23:11
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Re: Swiss Local Schools vs American(!) Public Schools

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Well, a Matura is basically equivalent to the last 2 years of High School and perhaps the first 1-2 years of college. The drop-out rate isn't very high and any normally gifted person who's willing to give it the necessary effort will pass without major issues. There's no reason to worry about that.
Yes, the number of Maturas are relatively low. But that doesn't have anything to do with the degree of difficulty. The reason for this is simply: people here have a real choice between a Matura and an apprenticeship, which is also highly regarded here. Doing an apprenticeship doesn't mean you're dumb and you can still go to a technical University after having finished it.

As someone already mentioned above: what if your kids don't want to go to University? In that case, they're most definitely better off here. With a decent apprenticeship you can still make an excellent living in Switzerland. Also, Swiss artisans are in high demand abroad as well.
I don't agree with the statement that a normally gifted person person with above average motivation will pass Matura. There is an entry examn and a three months probation period which about 30% of the students don't pass.

The vast majority of children with the potential to make a Matura opt for that. Nobody choses to make an apprenticeship when they are 12 years young.

That said it is true that without Matura adolescents aren't lost on the job market.
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Old 12.05.2009, 05:52
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Re: Swiss Local Schools vs American(!) Public Schools

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I don't agree with the statement that a normally gifted person person with above average motivation will pass Matura. There is an entry examn and a three months probation period which about 30% of the students don't pass.

The vast majority of children with the potential to make a Matura opt for that. Nobody choses to make an apprenticeship when they are 12 years young.
Honestly, I don't have any idea what you're talking about here. Both my wife and I have a Matura and my wife even teaches Matura classes in Basel.
By far most cantons have gotten rid of the entry exams long ago. But even with the exam: out of 7 people in my class that took the exam, only one flunked the entry exam (that person also happened to be the worst student in my class and later also had a 4.0 average in her apprenticeship exam).
In the Gymnasium, there were 25 people when we started out. 19 people took the final exam (which all passed). Of the 6 people that didn't, 2 had dropped out (one of them worked at McDonald's 20 hours per week which is a bit too much when you consider that Gymansiums are full-time schools) and the other one just didn't make it. The other four either switched to another course (I was in the languages + Latin branch, most of them switched to OR / C) or left voluntarily. One of them wanted to become a cook but didn't have bad grades. She now has a restaurant on the Bahamas together with her husband and I envy her greatly, btw :-)

Our secondary school class was about 30 people - 7 of them opted to go to Gymansium, 3 went on to become teachers and the rest chose to do an apprenticeship. It's absolutely not the case that everbody wants to go to Gymnasium. You're probably mixing up the fact that even with an apprenticeship you can still get a Matura (the "Berufsmatur") - which entitles you to go on to technical college later. That's definitely something most people will opt to do and the drop-out rate is much higher than at the Gymnasiums. My wife just told me that the typical drop-out rate in her school is around 10% and that those who dropped out are typically those that didn't want to be there in the first place.

peter
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Old 12.05.2009, 07:44
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Re: Swiss Local Schools vs American(!) Public Schools

There is always another option you could look at. Switzerland has some excellent International schools. Speaking with a friend over the weekend she said that 10% of the students at her school have gone on to Oxbridge or Ivy League universities.
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Old 12.05.2009, 07:47
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Re: Swiss Local Schools vs American(!) Public Schools

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There is always another option you could look at. Switzerland has some excellent International schools. Speaking with a friend over the weekend she said that 10% of the students at her school have gone on to Oxbridge or Ivy League universities.
Why pay 10k+ per year for a private school when the public schools are equally good when you're planning on staying here anyway? If you're smart enough (or if you have enough cash) to go to an Ivy League university, it won't matter if you have a Swiss Matura or if you went to an international school.

Peter
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