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View Poll Results: Which country would you as an 18 year old fluent in EN and FR study in ?
Switzerland 18 27.69%
United States 26 40.00%
United Kingdom 15 23.08%
Others 6 9.23%
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  #61  
Old 06.06.2011, 14:50
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Re: If you were 18 would you want to attend university in CH or the U.S.?

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The academics here I find good, but not at such a demanding level as where i studied in the UK. There is a lot of focus on learning by heart, and in some exams feels a little bit like taking school exams. ............................................ it also takes away the very independent aspects of studying that arts/social science courses in the UK require.


I do find this rather strange to be honest. I thought the whole point of studying under-graduate and in particular post-grad was to also hone research skills, development of argument and "principled" original thought (with reference to current research) In particular in the arts/social sciences.

The idea that Uni students are still being, in a way "spoon fed facts" to "memorize" certainly doesn't sell Swiss Uni's to me at all - if this is the case.

Last edited by MusicChick; 06.06.2011 at 15:24. Reason: fixed a quote
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Old 06.06.2011, 15:14
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Re: If you were 18 would you want to attend university in CH or the U.S.?

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I do find this rather strange to be honest. I thought the whole point of studying under-graduate and in particular post-grad was to also hone research skills, development of argument and "principled" original thought (with reference to current research) In particular in the arts/social sciences.

The idea that Uni students are still being, in a way "spoon fed facts" to "memorize" certainly doesn't sell Swiss Uni's to me at all - if this is the case.
I certainly can't speak for all universities, but over here in SG some of the courses do seem rather unimaginative in their content. Students buy a box of 200 flashcards from the bookshop, learn them by heart, and then reproduce bullet points in the exams.

I also feel that the focus here is going to university to learn material that you will later use in your job, whilst in the UK, it's much more about learning how to learn. People here sometimes seem surprised when i say that someone who has studied Theology at a good uni in the UK can go on to become a lawyer, accountant or banker. I feel that what I learn here in CH is much more job-oriented and probably more useful for my future career than in the UK, but that the uni here lacks the aspect of teaching you how to teach yourself and the other 'soft-skills'. That's the reason why I think the UK-CH combination has worked out quite well in the end, as a good mix of both styles.
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Old 06.06.2011, 15:19
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Re: If you were 18 would you want to attend university in CH or the U.S.?

I'm also gonna throw in the option of Canadian Universities.

They are -on average- a fraction of the cost of American schools, might not rank as high on lists, but are still internationally known.

From there, a cheaper B.xxx degree can be followed up by a potentilaly paid M.xxx and then a Ph.D at your choice---depending if you're good enough.
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  #64  
Old 06.06.2011, 15:22
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Re: If you were 18 would you want to attend university in CH or the U.S.?

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I'm also gonna throw in the option of Canadian Universities.

They are -on average- a fraction of the cost of American schools, might not rank as high on lists, but are still internationally known.

From there, a cheaper B.xxx degree can be followed up by a potentilaly paid M.xxx and then a Ph.D at your choice---depending if you're good enough.
I totally agree with your statement..but having studied in both countries, I would say, that living expenses are cheaper in the US than in Canada.
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Old 06.06.2011, 15:30
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Re: If you were 18 would you want to attend university in CH or the U.S.?

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I feel that what I learn here in CH is much more job-oriented and probably more useful for my future career than in the UK, but that the uni here lacks the aspect of teaching you how to teach yourself and the other 'soft-skills'.
Certain amount of data digested is important, in order to bring substance, you know, you can't always count on students bringing substance on their own. Discipline is important, the ability to stick to detailed routine work as well, you know how many students use all sorts of ways to creatively talk their way out of doing work, wonder off topic...So, I do see some point of drill, repetition, but mere regurgitating facts is too little, isn't it. I am not sure what you meant by soft skills, though. How to learn? Process info? Independent cognitive processes? Memory work, etc.? That should have been taught in high school, no?
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Old 06.06.2011, 15:36
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Re: If you were 18 would you want to attend university in CH or the U.S.?

As someone who teaches academic research/thought/writing at (not a top) Swiss university, I can confirm that this is an aspect which does not seem to come naturally to many Swiss students. However, their prior schooling harldy equipped them for original, critical, sound argumentation.

Our Bachelor and Master students (taught in English with options to do segments in German-taught courses if they want to) frequently opt to slot in a semester or year abroad and increasingly to add on a Master at a university abroad. Clearly this broadens their profile, consolidates language and cultural skills and increases chances of getting interesting jobs both here and abroad.

Many students report that they find they are worked harder here than abroad (this comes both from international students we have plus those who went abroad on an exchange). Obviously this always depends on the uni and the discipline. My take is that in Switzerland the uni's educate well for the professional environment here. But without campus life (sport, clubs, parties, living away from home) and without the encouragement (and hours) to be more exploratory, philosophical, questioning they do tend to emerge as more one-dimensional which, in some cultures and some jobs, may well prove a disadvantage.
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Old 06.06.2011, 15:43
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I am not sure what you meant by soft skills, though. How to learn? Process info? Independent cognitive processes? Memory work, etc.? That should have been taught in high school, no?
To give an example: in England I would get a 20 or so item reading list (mixture of journal articles and books) for an essay that I would write that week. I'd be expected to go off read as much as I could, but working out what was relevant or interested me, because it would be physically impossible to read everything. Here it's much more likely that the reading list would contain 2 or 3 papers and specific page references for what's relevant. For actually learning the material, the second way is much more effective (no time wasted reading unnecessary stuff), however doesn't really train you in processing large quantities of information and then constructing your own conclusions. This is what you can't really 'teach', but rather spend three years at university learning how to do effectively, and alongside that, also how to motivate yourself to it independently.

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Our Bachelor and Master students (taught in English with options to do segments in German-taught courses if they want to) frequently opt to slot in a semester or year abroad and increasingly to add on a Master at a university abroad. Clearly this broadens their profile, consolidates language and cultural skills and increases chances of getting interesting jobs both here and abroad.
This is definitely a plus point that I have seen here over... It seems pretty easy to organise an exchange and students are very motivated to do so. Within switzerland there is also an exchange program (swiss mobility), making it very easy to go to another Swiss university for a semester and study there. The UK system, certainly, didn't have the same flexibility and exchanges were generally reserved for language students.

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  #68  
Old 06.06.2011, 16:02
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To give an example: in England I would get a 20 or so item reading list (mixture of journal articles and books) for an essay that I would write that week. I'd be expected to go off read as much as I could, but working out what was relevant or interested me, because it would be physically impossible to read everything. Here it's much more likely that the reading list would contain 2 or 3 papers and specific page references for what's relevant. For actually learning the material, the second way is much more effective (no time wasted reading unnecessary stuff), however doesn't really train you in processing large quantities of information and then constructing your own conclusions. This is what you can't really 'teach', but rather spend three years at university learning how to do effectively, and alongside that, also how to motivate yourself to it independently.
This is interesting and I am not a snarky person, take that "interesting" as what it really means. What you said is being done here is high school back home. Uni back home is about 30 sources, mostly books, digested, read and basically memorized, with formed individual take on it as an obligatory desert, hahaha. So, I guess UK unies are the same as Prague ones. But we do have to know those 30 books no matter what, still form our own conclusions, you have more time for this.

I think you can teach how to train oneself digesting sources to make your own conclusions. What would be the point to just merely quote sources all the time? I wonder if students are expected that here, because they might actually not come with stuff on their own? Don't know how to? Even if you have 2-3 sources, you can still speed read other sources to have a backup for some good, sound conclusions? On your own? So, it is not necessarily a matter of what is expected, rather how you work with sources? Would that be penalized here?

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As someone who teaches academic research/thought/writing at (not a top) Swiss university, I can confirm that this is an aspect which does not seem to come naturally to many Swiss students. However, their prior schooling harldy equipped them for original, critical, sound argumentation.
This is exactly what my impression was. Now, what I think a unique position of uni would be, to take them out of the comfortable "within the box" thinking and send them off into the interesting orbits...

I admire kids not being afraid of routine work, being disciplined and follow the rules of academic growth, but, not when it is out of comfort. One has to dare, and academic environment is a fantastic training ground for this. If ones uses the prior education as an excuse, they will stick in the box. The one semester abroad will be sweet and short, will influence greatly, but still, if more creative ways were implemented within the curriculum, I bet both kids, profs and prestige of non tech schools would benefit.

I am so wordy today, yuck.
And I am actually arguing pro and con at the same post, hahaha.
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  #69  
Old 06.06.2011, 16:23
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Re: If you were 18 would you want to attend university in CH or the U.S.?

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I admire kids not being afraid of routine work, being disciplined and follow the rules of academic growth, but, not when it is out of comfort. One has to dare, and academic environment is a fantastic training ground for this. If ones uses the prior education as an excuse, they will stick in the box.
I think one of the more difficult tasks for a professor with a bunch of first year students is to pry them out of the box they've been in where most of their work has been striving to achieve or reproduce a right answer. In science, we'd say you aren't doing research unless you dare to be wrong occasionally. In philosophy class, the professors had to work at getting students not to parrot what Kant says or what you think the professor wants to hear so that you get a good grade by pandering to his ego. The hard work is getting them to find their own voice and thoughts.

I'll spare you my thoughts about the admonishons that I've received about not asking difficult questions during talks because it's 'not respectful to Herr Doktor Professor.....' I can only imagine what classes with HDP are like. As my professors in the US put it "If you aren't asking me questions, you aren't paying attention".
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Old 06.06.2011, 16:50
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Re: If you were 18 would you want to attend university in CH or the U.S.?

It is not how many books or papers you read ( although I will read anything-cr@p included) but the quality of the reading and how you use it.

Different cultures have different approaches, which may fit one personality more than another.

First you have the Swiss- lots of rote learning and following the rules, real grind in obsession with detail, but a useful talent. Sometimes there is an attempt to learn the weird and wonderful, but few Swiss lectures know how to marry both approaches.


In the UK we went in deep into defined area. You had to learn to argue within the confines of the structure. This was a great exercise in one way in that you learned to understand the culture of academia and British perspective embedded in vertical literacies.

Then you have the American, which may look easy at first in that you cover a vast amount superficially with no real depth. You are presented with a wealth (sometimes overwhelming) amount of material. I came a cropper, when it became apparent that I was supposed to provide the depth myself. The US wasn't going to train in me in study technique. I should have learned that at high school. Nor would they dictate a certain style, which left me feeling a bit lost. To the contrary of the majority, I found that Americans at University write a lot better than they speak. You learn a lot by interacting with other students and picking their brains. Study groups are vitally important. They provide a more dynamic way of learning that better prepares you for the workforce. However you have to get in with the brighter and imaginative thinkers, otherwise you may find yourself wasting time with the uninspired. t can be very clique -ee.

With a term spent abroad- i might be wrong, but the universities know that this is a term abroad and go easy, the level is not the same, which is why I will not allow my kids to do a term abroad. Sure it's an easy credit at cost and a nce trip abroad for the lecturers to expand their resume, but if I want my kids to learn another culture they do it form that culture's perspective. I have the option of sending my daughter to an American University abroad to learn Arabic and Farsi or send her to where the locals go to learn the same. I know which is tougher. Having said that there are some excellent universities in the UK and US where grad/ PhD level experts congregate and sometimes this filters down if you can 'get -in' with the professors, by showing unbounding enthusiasm and diligence for their subject.

I love studying- it is such fun!
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Old 06.06.2011, 16:54
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Re: If you were 18 would you want to attend university in CH or the U.S.?

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Give me the names of any EPFL or ETHZ professors whose work is a major influence on their field, who were not bought in from a US or UK university.

I don't know of any!
I'm not going to name some of the people I work with on a public forum but even if some are bought in from the US or the UK is neither here nor there.

The fact is they are world renowned good quality professors...I don't really care were they came from.
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  #72  
Old 06.06.2011, 17:03
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Re: If you were 18 would you want to attend university in CH or the U.S.?

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I think one of the more difficult tasks for a professor with a bunch of first year students is to pry them out of the box they've been in where most of their work has been striving to achieve or reproduce a right answer. In science, we'd say you aren't doing research unless you dare to be wrong occasionally. In philosophy class, the professors had to work at getting students not to parrot what Kant says or what you think the professor wants to hear so that you get a good grade by pandering to his ego. The hard work is getting them to find their own voice and thoughts.

I'll spare you my thoughts about the admonishons that I've received about not asking difficult questions during talks because it's 'not respectful to Herr Doktor Professor.....' I can only imagine what classes with HDP are like. As my professors in the US put it "If you aren't asking me questions, you aren't paying attention".
Hey, parroting Kant is fun, my favorite past time, hahahah...I am kidding, but I do like Kant, anyways.

It's easy to get minds out of box. You set a routine, creative thinking, or critical thinking is actually a matter of routine, too, or can be. The method itself, not the outcome. The vehicle. I have a creative task every class, and kids never know if it's graded or not. You can get people used to it. Of course it is uncomfortable, since people who aren't used to be creative, and I don't mean some kind of uncontrolled ventures, do not trust their productions, at first, they doubt their thought powers and processes. Then they like it. Then they get hooked on it. People enjoy being heard. If you drill a routine, you offer a vehicle, a structure, a method to use for free form thoughts and ideas. The they hear one another, then a debate can start. It is not only about frontal edu, it is also about a collective of individual minds.

I went through an interesting culture shock at uni here when we were instructed to not "steal the precious lecture time" and not ask questions, zero debate. As if students weren't able to get their lecture online, these days. That makes one's mind really inquisitive, this "we shall not put our lecturer in any sort of unease" approach. For reals.

When we took exams at home, you have to dress accordingly, suit and tie, you have a few weeks to cram those 30 books (you first take an exam admission test to check if you know those sources) and prepare your own conclusions, then you pull two tasks out of 60 in a little lottery thing, you have 15min prep, you talk. If they ask you questions, and you know answers it's B, if you don't know 1-2 answers it's C. There is nothing else, all others fail. It was really difficult, about 12 times a year, this craziness, but it was a good combo of routine and drill, and having space for synthesizing and personal input (as long as it wasn't outrageously over the top). I'd still say the discipline and routine is a good habit, but one gets really worn out mentally to get into the finesse part, the let's combine our knowledge and brainstorm and figure something new part.
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Old 06.06.2011, 17:17
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Re: If you were 18 would you want to attend university in CH or the U.S.?

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I'm also gonna throw in the option of Canadian Universities.

They are -on average- a fraction of the cost of American schools, might not rank as high on lists, but are still internationally known.

From there, a cheaper B.xxx degree can be followed up by a potentilaly paid M.xxx and then a Ph.D at your choice---depending if you're good enough.
You're absolutely right. McGill and Queen's University spring to mind. Montreal and Toronto are great cities as well.
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Old 06.06.2011, 17:20
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Re: If you were 18 would you want to attend university in CH or the U.S.?

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You're absolutely right. McGill and Queen's University spring to mind. Montreal and Toronto are great cities as well.

Queens is garbage (and in Kingston btw)
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Old 06.06.2011, 17:20
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Re: If you were 18 would you want to attend university in CH or the U.S.?

When I did my first degree at a British (Red Brick) University (in Criminology + Social Policy) We had maybe 8 hours of lectures and 4 tutorials a week. They outlined the "bare bones". We were then given a reading list and an essay title and a deadline for submission. Days were spent in the library, reading, researching, taking notes, condensing, synthesizing and formulating your own argument/opinion amidst all of that. The time consuming part was always the research - which was totally independent.

Our A levels had already taught us how to argue a point, destroy an opposing point and document this on paper. To get through a degree you needed certain skills already in place - independent study being one.

We also had to write an extended dissertation in our final year - which took around 9 months to properly research and put together. It was excellent academic training.

Alongside that there were the countless clubs and societies. Debate club, hockey club, rowing club etc. And lots of time was spent socializing down at the student union bar.

University was the one time in life where you could indulge in "discussion, debate and partying" for 3 whole years!

What tended to happen back then was people took degrees they were really interested in or passionate about and only after the degree decided on their career route which pretty much always involved further training and qualifications.

I suppose the Uni experience in the UK is as easy or challenging as you want to make it. Back then - you had to get pretty good grades at A level to even get onto the popular degree courses at the good unis. Once you were there it really was whatever you made of it! (no spoon feeding there at all)

I can understand a uni course such as medicine or science based subjects that really demand that one learns a huge amount of info and detail off by heart. I imagine Swiss Uni's must excel in such areas.

But to apply that same principle to a subject like philosophy - is quite limiting.
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Old 06.06.2011, 17:34
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Re: If you were 18 would you want to attend university in CH or the U.S.?

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When I did my first degree at a British (Red Brick) University (in Criminology + Social Policy) We had maybe 8 hours of lectures and 4 tutorials a week. They outlined the "bare bones". We were then given a reading list and an essay title and a deadline for submission. Days were spent in the library, reading, researching, taking notes, condensing, synthesizing and formulating your own argument/opinion amidst all of that. The time consuming part was always the research - which was totally independent.

Our A levels had already taught us how to argue a point, destroy an opposing point and document this on paper. To get through a degree you needed certain skills already in place - independent study being one.

We also had to write an extended dissertation in our final year - which took around 9 months to properly research and put together. It was excellent academic training.

Alongside that there were the countless clubs and societies. Debate club, hockey club, rowing club etc. And lots of time was spent socializing down at the student union bar.

University was the one time in life where you could indulge in "discussion, debate and partying" for 3 whole years!

What tended to happen back then was people took degrees they were really interested in or passionate about and only after the degree decided on their career route which pretty much always involved further training and qualifications.

I suppose the Uni experience in the UK is as easy or challenging as you want to make it. Back then - you had to get pretty good grades at A level to even get onto the popular degree courses at the good unis. Once you were there it really was whatever you made of it! (no spoon feeding there at all)

I can understand a uni course such as medicine or science based subjects that really demand that one learns a huge amount of info and detail off by heart. I imagine Swiss Uni's must excel in such areas.

But to apply that same principle to a subject like philosophy - is quite limiting.
Well, actually, the academic work is pretty similar. In Phil you still have to know huge amount of data, terminology (and all those philosophers had their own, their own concepts, relating to another network of data...etc etc). That's the way it is done back home, too. Only if you know this you can actually engage in personal way of interpreting it, seeing maybe differently how interpretable it is, to what the theory relates, you gota read huge amount of other people's interpretations, across the history, etc. To be creative and out of the box to avoid cramming all the data is always a failure.

You can teach this way in primary school, high school, uni, anywhere, just adjust the terminology, complexity of cognitive processes and adjust the amount of data. People are not really complicated beings this way, minds actually function the best not when overfilled with data, but when taught how to use the data, but the process of filling the mind with data is helpful, too. At schools it works simultaneously. Just to give people standardized terminology and ways to stereotype in a healthy way in order to communicate. Look at us here, most squabbles are due to terminology and culture clashes.

I think you can teach your kid to how process info this way, no matter where the young adult ends up studying. As long as they dare to not only cram the data to work with, acquire the material for mental work, but also dare to juggle it around and change it to their own personal criteria.
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Old 06.06.2011, 21:59
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Re: If you were 18 would you want to attend university in CH or the U.S.?

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I'm not going to name some of the people I work with on a public forum but even if some are bought in from the US or the UK is neither here nor there.

The fact is they are world renowned good quality professors...I don't really care were they came from.
Exactly! which is why US lecturers are a real mixture culture-wise. In Switzerland I thought that the lecturers were predominantly Swiss raised; as in Switzerland they have to prove that they could not get a Swiss professor to do the job first, before hiring a foreigner. I am sure that there are plenty of Swiss professors to fill slots.

We don't have that problem so much in the US.

Am I right or has the balance shifted more towards the US perspective in terms of hiring?

Aha just found this:

Quote:
For example, at the end of 2006 the 30% of the 461 professorship positions at the University of Zurich were held by Germans. Rates in each discipline varied from 13% in Law to more than 40% in Economics.
http://www.eui.eu/ProgrammesAndFello...itzerland.aspx

Last edited by hoppy; 07.06.2011 at 00:29.
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Old 07.06.2011, 00:43
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Re: If you were 18 would you want to attend university in CH or the U.S.?

This university looks interesting:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/...rsity-syllabus
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Old 07.06.2011, 08:09
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Re: If you were 18 would you want to attend university in CH or the U.S.?

OP,

I didn't read the whole thread but if your kid speak french maybe you should both think to do his Uni in Quebec. It is a wonderful place to live and study. The atmosphere is amazing and people are great.

Montreal has one of the best University (McGill) and he will be in a nice mixture of french and english speaking environment within a city that offer so much for students.

And I believe the cost of studying and leaving would be cheaper there too.

Good Luck!

Nil
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Old 07.06.2011, 08:48
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Re: If you were 18 would you want to attend university in CH or the U.S.?

I think an important note to make is how it's a US vs the world perception on college degrees.
The entire world recognizes the US degree (more or less), however, the US really doesn't give much credit to foreign degrees. It's probably due to the myriad of universities and the vastness of the land, which makes the native in the US think somewhat ethnocentrically.

Now on the other hand, Swiss (or most European) degrees are held in high regard in the Europe and throughout the world as well.

So essentially you have a situation where if you plan to take advantage of the opportunities of the US, it's best to have a US degree. If you don't, you're fine either way.

Now I've avoided the financial or actual quality of the education itself, but it is important to note the jobs in the US, target (or I should say desire), a certain type of employee, whereas the typical job-seeker in Europe is different. That's to say that I've seen more people get a degree in something in the US just to have a degree and proceed to find any job. That's not quite my perception throughout Europe, where people look for more skills-based job.
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