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Old 03.05.2011, 03:59
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Is ETH Zurich good for me?

So, I'm a sophomore in high school in the US and I have my eyes set on Zurich for a multitude of reasons. I was wondering if anyone could give me advice on the different aspects of getting into ETH Zurich such as if I will be qualified enough, how hard it will be, etc. I plan to go to school for computer science (programming, specifically) if that helps you at all.

Anyway... I plan on taking German for all four years of high school and I am going to Germany on an exchange program for 3 weeks this summer. I also use Rosetta Stone in my free time. Learning German adequately is a huge concern of mine; do you think I will be good enough for lectures and such, or do you think I should somehow learn some specific vocabulary related to school subjects or anything?

As for other courses, I should have enough AP credits to take the reduced exam, and I might be able to go to a Goethe Institut or something and get a C1 Zertifikat. However, I will be taking Calculus BC AP senior year, will the results get in fast enough to submit to ETHZ? Also is the entrance exam considered hard? I attend a pretty decent school, (Ben Franklin High School in New Orleans) so I have taken Biology and am taking Chemistry this year. Next year I will take Chem II AP and senior year Physics AP, are any parts of the exam particularly hard?

Thanks to all who try to help.
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Old 03.05.2011, 09:48
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Re: Is ETH Zurich good for me?

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So, I'm a sophomore in high school in the US and I have my eyes set on Zurich for a multitude of reasons. I was wondering if anyone could give me advice on the different aspects of getting into ETH Zurich such as if I will be qualified enough, how hard it will be, etc. I plan to go to school for computer science (programming, specifically) if that helps you at all.

Anyway... I plan on taking German for all four years of high school and I am going to Germany on an exchange program for 3 weeks this summer. I also use Rosetta Stone in my free time. Learning German adequately is a huge concern of mine; do you think I will be good enough for lectures and such, or do you think I should somehow learn some specific vocabulary related to school subjects or anything?

As for other courses, I should have enough AP credits to take the reduced exam, and I might be able to go to a Goethe Institut or something and get a C1 Zertifikat. However, I will be taking Calculus BC AP senior year, will the results get in fast enough to submit to ETHZ? Also is the entrance exam considered hard? I attend a pretty decent school, (Ben Franklin High School in New Orleans) so I have taken Biology and am taking Chemistry this year. Next year I will take Chem II AP and senior year Physics AP, are any parts of the exam particularly hard?

Thanks to all who try to help.
I don't know all of the qualifications, but you will probably be required
to pass the Goethe ZOP exam. It is fairly advanced, but you can
certainly do it.

Here is a link with some information on studying in Switzerland:

http://www.swissuniversity.ch/enroll...-admission.htm
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Old 03.05.2011, 09:59
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Re: Is ETH Zurich good for me?

This site lists the ETH entrance requirements for Bachelor programmes:
http://www.rektorat.ethz.ch/students..._qual/index_EN

I guess in more specific cases contacting ETH directly would be a good idea.
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Old 03.05.2011, 10:27
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Re: Is ETH Zurich good for me?

From reading up on ETH entrance requirements, it sounds like you will need to take the entrance exam - I've no info on how easy or hard that might be.

Also, you'll need German to a Goethe Institut C1 level as a minimum (to give you an idea - good conversational German with a strong vocabulary that will get you by in almost any situation is probably B2 level - C1 is approaching fluency)

If you're dead set on studying at ETHZ then it might be easier to get your bachelor degree in the US, and then come to ETH to do your masters (or PhD) - I know plenty of Masters and PhD students who have little or no German at all, and the entry requirements at that stage are essentially the bachelors degree that you hold, coupled with a "job interview".
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Old 03.05.2011, 10:33
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Re: Is ETH Zurich good for me?

Hey, firstly, good luck with your university search, and good on you for starting to think ahead.

ETH Zurich may or may not be the best school for you. So, while you learn German and collect certifications, also keep your eyes open for all kinds of schools.

That said, ETHZ is a great place for international students to study. There are lots of programs to help you, there is a language center with excellent courses, and the academics are challenging without being overwhelming. Of course, also look into the differences between the American and Swiss college systems. ETHZ follows the Bologna protocol, therefore, the approach to examinations is quite different. Weekly homeworks, mid-term exams and regular office hours are rare at the ETHZ. You usually get lectures, optional homeworks, and one giant exam at the end of the semester. So you need to know how well that fits your attitude.

Also keep in mind the cost aspect of living and studying in Zurich. Student apartments and dorm-like buildings are available, but way more expensive than NOLA. There isn't really financial aid in the way you find in the US, and everything from food to tram tickets to visits home are staggeringly expensive. So, make sure you have the funds available before you dive in.
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Old 03.05.2011, 10:33
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Re: Is ETH Zurich good for me?

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......If you're dead set on studying at ETHZ then it might be easier to get your bachelor degree in the US, and then come to ETH to do your masters (or PhD) - I know plenty of Masters and PhD students who have little or no German at all, and the entry requirements at that stage are essentially the bachelors degree that you hold, coupled with a "job interview".

I agree with this. Judging by your qualifications, you'll be fine with a high end US school. A B.xx from there will be very powerful at ETH where the bachelors degree is essentially useless without a masters. Also post-grad at ETH is generally all in english and moves at a faster pace than most American graduate programs.

Just my two cents and experiences.
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Old 03.05.2011, 11:51
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Re: Is ETH Zurich good for me?

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Is ETH Zurich good for me?
If you can get into MIT or Stanford my answer is 'No'.

If you can study for free in another good school (CMU, Wisconsin, Berkeley, etc) my answer is 'maybe'.

If you have to take a loan of 50k a year to go to a less reputable school in the US my answer would be 'definitely'.

Depends on how good you are and how much money you (your parents) are willing to spend...

btw, I am only talking about CS and this is a very personal point of view (coming from a person who faced a similar question in the past).
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Old 03.05.2011, 11:52
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Re: Is ETH Zurich good for me?

I tend to agree with the posters suggesting undergraduate degree in US followed by graduate study at ETHZ. I would like to add the suggestion of a semester or (better, IMHO) year abroad, at ETHZ or elsewhere in the German speaking world. ETHZ has a limited number of formal exchange programs with US institutions, plus a more flexible program for visiting students.
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Old 03.05.2011, 11:57
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Re: Is ETH Zurich good for me?

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I tend to agree with the posters suggesting undergraduate degree in US followed by graduate study at ETHZ. I would like to add the suggestion of a semester or (better, IMHO) year abroad, at ETHZ or elsewhere in the German speaking world. ETHZ has a limited number of formal exchange programs with US institutions, plus a more flexible program for visiting students.
Good suggestion - for example, ETH are active in the IAESTE exchange program.
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Old 03.05.2011, 12:36
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Re: Is ETH Zurich good for me?

I have heard that the german entrance exam at any swiss university is freaking hard. Also, from my hazy memory of talking to a mate who had done this exanm, they said that apparently the exam was a little less difficult than UZH. But I guess ETH is more international, so I guess that makes sense.

BTW: Whats a sophomore? What year is that?
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Old 03.05.2011, 12:46
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Re: Is ETH Zurich good for me?

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BTW: Whats a sophomore? What year is that?
Second year ... Freshman -> sophomore -> junior -> senior

See Wikipedia reference-linkFreshman if you need an authoritative reference
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Old 03.05.2011, 12:52
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Re: Is ETH Zurich good for me?

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Second year ... Freshman -> sophomore -> junior -> senior

See Wikipedia reference-linkFreshman if you need an authoritative reference
And so whats that? Year 9? What age do you start school in the states?
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Old 03.05.2011, 12:56
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Re: Is ETH Zurich good for me?

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And so whats that? Year 9? What age do you start school in the states?

If it's like Canada--Highschool comes before university and consists of grades 9-12.

Normally you will turn 15 in your grade 9 second half of the school year(~Jan->June) or turn 15 your first half of grade 10 (Sept->December) or inbetween.


This is not absolute, but the general plan
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Old 04.05.2011, 00:52
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Re: Is ETH Zurich good for me?

I guess what I'd like to know is about how long it would take to achieve that 'near fluency' level. I would love to become fluent in German and live for four years in Switzerland, but I am pretty skeptical considering I can't even get accepted into ETH until the end of summer my senior year.

So, can anyone tell me from experience how long it would take to become proficient in German? Would four years of High School coupled with Rosetta Stone, exchange programs, and maybe a crash course during the summer before University be enough?
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Old 11.05.2011, 03:07
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Re: Is ETH Zurich good for me?

So after some more research, another possibility has presented itself. What do you all think about applying to Jacobs University in Bremen for a Bachelors and then moving on somewhere else for Masters? I am slightly confused about the quality of Jacobs, mostly because the internet has failed to bring me definitive answers. I either find people who love it or hate it. Do you think that Jacobs would provide a quality education on the level of ETH or other esteemed Universities? Moreover, what differences would there be between such different universities?
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Old 11.05.2011, 06:57
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Re: Is ETH Zurich good for me?

First of all, ETH is roughly on the level of MIT or Stanford - and (almost) correspondingly hard to get into. I wouldn't take it for granted that the German exam is your only concern.

Having said that - four years of diligent high school German plus Rosetta Stone will probably get you to around B1/B2 level at most (which is nothing to sneeze at! B2 is about where I am now, after four years of living here.)

I concur with the recommendation to do your undergrad work somewhere else and then grad school at ETH.
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Old 11.05.2011, 07:08
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Re: Is ETH Zurich good for me?

My recommendation is for a science focus because it's what I'm familiar with.

My recommendation would be to go to a decent school in the States (that isn't too expensive) for your Bachelors. Get to know profs, especially in the areas that you are interested in and especially if they have any connections to ETH. Where you go for undergrad matters a lot less with a PhD.

A year before you graduate you should be in contact with profs at ETH in whose labs you would like to be doing you PhD. Notice I have skipped right over the masters. If you want a PhD and are coming from the states you can skip the Masters which I completely recommend.

Anyway, now you are in contact with these profs - because you need to have a place and funding. In the last year you should be applying for scholarships - this involves getting a project outline/idea from a prof where you want to study and reworking it into your fellowship proposal. You can often get funding without a fellowship but when you bring your own money it's much better, it helps you win more money in the future and it demonstrates you are serious about working in that lab.

I could even recommend visiting Switzerland during a summer before you graduate and writing to profs and just saying you are traveling in the country and you are really interested in their work and you are looking to do a PhD in Switzerland and want to know if the Prof is available for just a *short* meeting for a coffee (your treat) to talk about their research and working as a PhD in Switzerland. This isn't necessary - but if you want doors to be opened...

PhD's in Switzerland, especially at ETH pay very well, especially compared to poverty wages in the States and Canada. The degrees are also shorter, and it isn't because they move quicker. It changes from university to university but where I am the students spend more time marking/TA'ing compared to my old university. Having worked with/been a PhD in Canada and EPFL, when you finish a PhD here you just have done less work to get the PhD, which isn't to say PhD's are bad here. Great students can do as well in the shorter period of time as a longer time. Poor students can be pulled through each system and given a PhD at the end, but perhaps in the States more bad students drop out given the bad pay and longer years.

Finally, if you are talking about PhD just be really sure you actually want to get one. You might get paid more at the end but if you started working after undergrad and work your way up in a company I think it is only rare PhD's who over the lifetime will eventually earn more to make up for those years spent on education instead of working, advancing and investing. Of course, ETH is shorter and pays better so the loss isn't as great as in the States.

Really think if a PhD is going to get you what you want. You will be overqualified for many jobs and they will refuse to hire you because you are too expensive and they are worried you will show up, be bored and leave after they've paid all this money to train you. You will be limited to the places that you can work, this is especially a problem for people I know with spouses and especially if both are highly educated. It's hard enough for one person to find a job, let alone the second person finding a job in the same area. When you are hired, you will be hired on as salary and expected to manage people and projects, so really think if you want to be a people/manager person. In science with a PhD, you don't get to disappear into a lab and just do your work. This isn't to say don't get a PhD, just really think about it - more than just thinking 'more education must be better'.
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Old 11.05.2011, 11:48
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Re: Is ETH Zurich good for me?

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If you want a PhD and are coming from the states you can skip the Masters which I completely recommend.
Are you sure this is right? I thought you needed a masters to start a PhD here. They also state this on the ETH website.

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If you hold a recognised Master degree and your qualifications meet the prerequisites, you can apply to start a doctorate at ETH Zurich
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Old 11.05.2011, 13:18
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Re: Is ETH Zurich good for me?

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Are you sure this is right? I thought you needed a masters to start a PhD here. They also state this on the ETH website.
He is right:

http://phd.epfl.ch/edic

The problem is getting in with "just" a bachelor's degree, competition is getting harder... year after year.
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Old 11.05.2011, 13:34
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Re: Is ETH Zurich good for me?

Just for the record and because nobody else mentioned it... you said that you want to study programming. While I do not know what US universities are like can I tell you that you will not program that much in your undergraduate course at a research university like the ETH - you will study a huge amount of "how computers actually work" in theory before you actually sit in front of one.

While many of the scientists on here might not like the idea - for most students is a more applied approach actually the better one. Switzerland has a list of good engineering schools known as "Applied university" or "Fachhochschule". Their courses do not have the reputation of the ETH. I know that the US works a bit different in that perspective as I come from a country where people do not really care about university rankings. But for me was it far more important if the school offers
- a curriculum that matched my interests
- an environment that suits me.
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