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Old 15.01.2011, 08:20
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High-schools in Lausanne: private vs public

Dear All,
we have recently relocated from Montreal (Canada) to Switzerland. For the time being, we live in Geneva - but we are moving to Lausanne in late Spring (my husband is working in the Lausanne area and I will continue to work in Geneva). Our 13-year old bilingual daughter was enrolled in an International Baccalaureate program in Montreal and is presently enrolled at the International School of Geneva (LGB). In view of our imminent move to Lausanne I did some shopping around for schools - including reading different threads that were posted here. While I do appreciate all the information that is posted, I noticed that this topic was frequently discussed in the context of much younger children that were for the most part English-speaking.
In my particular case, I would like to learn more about different school options (private vs public) for this age group along with your recommendations. Information that I need to validate:
- for public schools, the school in Pully (College Arnold-Reymond) seems to have a quite good reputation - can anyone comment on this pls,
- for private schools, it is my understanding that good private schools in the area include International School of Lausanne (only English), ENSL and Champittet - any comments or suggestions pls.
Perhaps I should add that we are planning to stay around for a while - at least until my daughter finishes high-school. She then plans to go to Cambridge where admission is very competitive and therefore I need to plan and prepare her path very careful.

Thank you for your suggestions - much appreciated!
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Old 15.01.2011, 11:03
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Re: High-schools in Lausanne: private vs public

My daughter (now 15) went to the Arnold Raymond. She loved it and got a good (free, too) education.
PM me if you want - we can have the girls talk... she is also Canadian, though never lived there. I am too lazy to go through the whole detailed comments here ...

I am personally not fond of private schools, unless absolutely necessary because of language or continous expatriations. Champittet though enjoys a good reputation. I looked into it when I arrived, but I am v. happy I chose to go public...
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Old 15.01.2011, 11:38
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Re: High-schools in Lausanne: private vs public

In your case, the goal is Cambridge. We take it from there.

Cambridge is a top university with selecting admition criterias, language is English

Thus: you need top grade in a school system that Cambridge university knows and trust. Proving excellent proficiency in English as an academic language is essential, no matter subject of study.

Thus: Do you think Cambridge know IBO or Swiss matura better? Ask them if necessary. In the IBO system, the number of points needed to get into cambridge means getting highest mark in almost all subjects AND being selected after interviews. As for transfer from Swiss matura, get the info directly from Cambridge admission office, as their experience is growing with the years and it may be more structured than what I have heard of some years ago for other UK universities.

Thus: Is your daughter academically able to get 7s in IB. You get a hint about that from the teachers of your present Geneva IB school. If the change occures between grade 11 and 12, ask about the differences of book lists and topic covered in the two school to make a comparaison and evaluate the difficulties involved. If change occures between grade 10 and 11, then it's a fresh start.
And if you go for public in French, ask Cambridge what are their language requirements for your particular case, just in case they demand a specific academic or just language English exam for admission.

Shor version: Academic requirements for admission into Cambridge are the only criteria to go by. And take my teacher's word for it: keep a plan B ready that does not involve Cambrigde or Oxford.
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Old 15.01.2011, 13:56
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Re: High-schools in Lausanne: private vs public

Thnx for your valuable and prompt input.
First and foremost, I am interested in two things: academic performance and my child's well-being. With regard to the academic performance, while all International Schools are bragging about this program and the quality of academics in their respective institutions, when looking at their statistics, admission to Cambridge is close to nil (not sure if this is because a small proportion of graduates go for Oxbridge or because they are not admitted - I incline for the latter). Is it then worth paying all that money (since my daughter already speaks very well English and spends her summers at camps in Cambridge)? As for her well-being, IB schools are very posh schools with high expectations vis-a-vis external look vs academic performance - I get the impression that, in this respect, public schools in Switzerland are more humble...which BTW is a good thing in my perspective....
Thnx
ps - Lilith - i will contact you soon to chat
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Old 15.01.2011, 14:07
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Re: High-schools in Lausanne: private vs public

I understand from your last message that your decision is already taken. Good luck with your project. But remember to call Cambridge for their admission requirements in time, especially paying attention to the status of mother tongue education ratio between French and English. Maybe Cambridge demands a certain documented level in academic English, which in the normal case for the UK is A'level in English, so the question is what do they want instead when your maturité is in French.

Last edited by Faltrad; 15.01.2011 at 14:15. Reason: English, what else?
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Old 15.01.2011, 15:06
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Re: High-schools in Lausanne: private vs public

From one who teaches in one of Switzerland's international school, and teaches the IB, and is involved in the admissions process for both UK and US universities, I would pay a lot of heed to what Faltrad is saying.

These are things you will have to consider if your heart is set on Cambridge, Oxford or any other Russell group university.

Entrance requirements:

At the moment about 39 points on the IB WITH the right subject choices. We are noticing that the grades are increasing by about 1 point or so each year. Within 5 years they will require 42 points plus the 3 bonus points.

If she is applying for History, Law or Medicine she will probably have to do the LNAT, HAT or the Medicine equivalent at that time ( more and more universities are coming on board ).

Don't pick more than one subject out of the "unholy trinity" of Business Studies, Maths Studies or Environmental Systems. I would probably also include Theatre Studies in this. If she picks two then forget it.

Decide what your daughter wishes to study at Cambridge - or if it is Cambridge she wants and is not really that bothered about the subject choice. There are subjects that are relatively easier to get into for than others. Relatively easier is still not easy though.

There are many other little bits and bobs which will help in the interview process, but her school will aid her with those at the appropriate time.

Good luck and all the best. IF you want to go to Cambridge, then by all means prepare for it. Personally, though, I am wanting my kids to go to a US university.

But that is a whole other ball game...!
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Old 15.01.2011, 15:20
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Re: High-schools in Lausanne: private vs public

My experience with pre-uni public schools in Lausanne was excellent. We have lived in Lausanne since our two kids were born, so they are bilungual, French/English.

For example our daughter went Elysee and had an excellent education. Being myself from a public education system in central USA (years 1964-1977 grade school through to high school, '77-'81 university), I was pretty much convinced, as was my European wife, that public schools were the way, for our vision and means.

My observation about private schools in Lausanne is that they cater mostly to ex-pats coming to work for multi-nationals, kids are here 3 years and off again without really integrating with the local indigenous kid population, mostly staying among themselves and speaking English.

Please wack the smilie icon if you see the above observation as a(nother) brooooaaaad generalization!!!

Our daughter made top marks in Elysee, learned High German, had challenging courses, had friends, and is now in Lausanne UNI in eco-urbanism studies. She is making top grades there and we feel it, among some other tangible/intangible factors, was because she had such an excellent grounding in the public school system in Lausanne, both academically and socially.
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Old 15.01.2011, 15:21
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Re: High-schools in Lausanne: private vs public

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...Personally, though, I am wanting my kids to go to a US university...
and your kids want?
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Old 15.01.2011, 15:23
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Re: High-schools in Lausanne: private vs public

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and your kids want?
AS I said personally I am wanting my kids to go to a US university.

At the moment my daughter wants to be a ballerina and my son wants to fight dragons. Who knows what they will want in the future.

Whatever it is though, hopefully I will be around to help them realise it.

Even if it is just blowing bubbles in the air...
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Old 15.01.2011, 15:39
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Re: High-schools in Lausanne: private vs public

General remarks: The easiest way is to get your high school diploma in the same country as the university of your dream. The smartest way may be different, the fun way yet a third one and the realistic way an fourth. Educational systems are made by governments for their own country, crossing borders is always linked with some trouble. But many did it before so why not you? (I did too, btw).
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Old 15.01.2011, 17:43
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Re: High-schools in Lausanne: private vs public

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General remarks: The easiest way is to get your high school diploma in the same country as the university of your dream. The smartest way may be different, the fun way yet a third one and the realistic way an fourth. Educational systems are made by governments for their own country, crossing borders is always linked with some trouble. But many did it before so why not you? (I did too, btw).
Very true. The majority of students accepted at Ivy Leagues Universities in the States are from the US. The next category are Canadians - followed by students from developing countries - which means that developing countries have a very good educational AND COMPETITIVE system.

I guess that the choice of University will ultimately rest with my daughter - I, as a parent, just want to make sure that she is well prepared to go wherever she chooses to (she is very keen on Cambridge and I can 100% understand the why). I have great respect for the IB program and for the teachers here in Switzerland - I don't necessarily like her student peer so much (I am sure the teachers will agree)!

I really enjoy reading all the postings - it seems I attracted a very interesting and up-to-date audience!
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Old 15.01.2011, 17:47
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Re: High-schools in Lausanne: private vs public

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followed by students from developing countries - which means that developing countries have a very good educational AND COMPETITIVE system.
Yes, but not only. It also shows that these students pay higher fees.

Sorry for this short moment of cynism.
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Old 15.01.2011, 18:03
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Re: High-schools in Lausanne: private vs public

It is the current reality in the UK - Universities try to attract as many foreign students as they do pay much higher fees - when I last looked about 3 times more. As University budgets are squeezed so hard, this is very attractive.
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Old 15.01.2011, 18:14
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Re: High-schools in Lausanne: private vs public

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Yes, but not only. It also shows that these students pay higher fees.

Sorry for this short moment of cynism.
I don't think this holds true - financial capabilities while a factor is not a selective determinant for admission not at Harvard nor at Oxbridge (you can check their websites). These Universities need to keep their standards and (unfortunately) the children coming from developing countries (don't thhink I need to name them) work harder and are very competitive - I am saying this from my perspective as a Professor in a very good North-American University.

Back to high-school options in Suisse - it seems there is a general consensus that public schooling is quite good!
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Old 15.01.2011, 18:18
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Re: High-schools in Lausanne: private vs public

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Back to high-school options in Suisse - it seems there is a general consensus that public schooling is quite good!
We felt like this was going to be the case, going in, for educating our kids - again both academically, and, socially.
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Old 15.01.2011, 18:22
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Re: High-schools in Lausanne: private vs public

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I don't think this holds true - financial capabilities while a factor is not a selective determinant for admission not at Harvard nor at Oxbridge (you can check their websites). These Universities need to keep their standards and (unfortunately) the children coming from developing countries (don't thhink I need to name them) work harder and are very competitive - I am saying this from my perspective as a Professor in a very good North-American University.

Back to high-school options in Suisse - it seems there is a general consensus that public schooling is quite good!
Oh yes, grades first, definitely!!!
I was just saying that they not only open the gates for academically smart people, there is a cashier at the gate. How could I express that.... French saying: allier l'utile à l'agréable (to combine what is useful - attracting best strudents from all over the world - with what is pleasant - enjoying the money).

The less glamourous version would be:
- European: get in if you are smart and have a budget for study time
- Rest of the world: get in if you are smart and have a large budget for it.

I see a nuance there. Hence the cynical detail I was pointing at.


And yes, Swiss matura/maturité is a good starting point for transition to university, very good even. Gymnasium (école de maturité in Vaud) in my experience (I have not taught everywhere in the country though) has a study-focussed ambiance. No problems, really. Just look up for the usual ones (cannabis and usafe sex, nothing especially Swiss). Seeing some students, I tend to consider Red Bull as a drug too... but that is a personnal opinion only.
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Old 15.01.2011, 18:23
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Re: High-schools in Lausanne: private vs public

There are institutions in Switzerland that allow you to study A-levels, including at least one in the Geneva area (I heard adverts on the radio).

My daughter is currently finishing secondary school. One of the options we considered was doing A-levels, rather than continuing with the Swiss system. This could either be done entirely by self-study, or in conjunction (to differing extents) with educational organisations. Obviously, if you've got A-levels, that being the British system, it's going to suit Cambridge requirements rather well. That being said, IB etc. are already well recognised. For most courses you'll need to be looking at three A grades. (probably A* grades) to get into the university, AND you have to pass at interview. My niece has 3 A* grades - maths, physics, chemistry - and still didn't get into Oxford, because she failed the interview.

I wanted to go to Cambridge when I was 13 as well. It stayed that way until I found out that they didn't offer the course I really want to do. So at 17, I decided not to apply. And yes, I do have three A's at A-level...

There are many good universities in the world, kids attitudes change over time, and there's always different routes to achieve the goal. Find the school she's likely to be happiest in - that's the criteria I'd use. (Money notwithstanding).

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It is the current reality in the UK - Universities try to attract as many foreign students as they do pay much higher fees - when I last looked about 3 times more. As University budgets are squeezed so hard, this is very attractive.
Higher fees only apply to non-EU and non-Swiss kids. If an EU/Swiss kid who isn't a British passport holder and isn't resident in England wishes to go to a Scottish university, they don't pay any fees.
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Old 15.01.2011, 18:52
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Re: High-schools in Lausanne: private vs public

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Seeing some students, I tend to consider Red Bull as a drug too... but that is a personnal opinion only.
Well you can add me in too! Do these kids ever read what is in that concoction, besides all the mega caffeine dosage, and why they are sparked out and bad tempered, usually aggressive (and shall I dare say more out of pocket, or perhaps their parents are, while the various Red Bull teams (F1, etc.) rides to universal domination!). In my much younger days it was PF Flyers shoes: Run Faster, Jump Higher!
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Old 15.01.2011, 18:56
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Re: High-schools in Lausanne: private vs public

I started the off topic, sorry for that. But in short:

If you put your daughter in Swiss public school, your biggest parenting problem may well be Red Bull. That answers in a way your question about the quality of education there.
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Old 15.01.2011, 19:18
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Re: High-schools in Lausanne: private vs public

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I started the off topic, sorry for that. But in short:

If you put your daughter in Swiss public school, your biggest parenting problem may well be Red Bull. That answers in a way your question about the quality of education there.
...and if she goes private???
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