Swiss Semester is a coeducational program of academic, personal, and physical challenge for roughly forty high school sophomores from the finest independent and public schools in the United States and beyond. Swiss Semester’s campus is Zermatt, Switzerland, and outdoor paradise that epitomizes the security, stability, healthfulness, and natural beauty for which Switzerland is renowned.
Increased insight into one’s self and others is an essential facet of the realization of personal potential that Swiss Semester is all about. As a result of living together in a foreign country, sharing new, exciting, and challenging experiences, and being away from the pull of social media and technology, students develop an increased awareness of their surroundings and how their actions affect others. They become less self-centered and more considerate. Almost all past Swiss Semester students mention an “increased independence,” “greater academic focus,” and “better study and time management skills” as additional benefits of the program. Students leave Swiss Semester with pride in all that they have accomplished and return to their communities and high schools with strengthened “can do” attitudes.
It is important to understand that Swiss Semester is first and foremost an academic program with very high expectations which attracts very academically applicants. Swiss Semester offers adventure, challenge, and a temporary change of routine and scenery without sacrificing rigorous academic preparation for very competitive colleges. Because of the personal and intellectual growth experienced during Swiss Semester, students almost always seek greater academic challenge and achieve higher grades upon their return to their sending high schools. All the classes at Swiss Semester incorporate the surroundings, the school’s travels, and the student’s development in the course material making Swiss Semester a truly integrated experiential learning opportunity.
Math—according the students’ sending school texts and syllabus. This ensures the when the students returns to their schools after Swiss Semester, they will be at least at the same academic proficiency as their peers. Class size is generally 3-5 students.
Foreign Language—French or Spanish according to the students’ sending school texts and syllabus. The French students will get an opportunity to use their French in and around Zermatt and during the program’s travels. Class size is generally 4-6 students.
English—standard honors sophomore English class with emphasis on writing and literature pertaining to Swiss Semester’s travels and the student’s emotional growth during the program.
Art History—this course integrates Art History with Western Civilization. It will relate the style of a number of key works of sculpture, painting, and architecture to the social/political background of the eras in which they were created. The students will get an opportunity to see some of the works “first hand” during the program’s travels.
Geology—class and extended labs will be taught in a similar fashion to a college introductory geology class. There are few better places to study and experience geology than in Zermatt!
Current Affairs—this class meets once a week to discuss world “headline” news. Particular emphasis is placed on European relations and U.S. foreign policy.
An “average” class day:
0750-0800 morning meeting
0800-1120 four academic classes
1120-1630 outdoor activities in the mountains
(climbing, hiking, geology lab, and skiing)
1630-1810 two academic classes
1920-2145 study hall
2215 lights out