The American School in SwitzerlandThe American School in Switzerland

Myth vs Reality

Myth vs Reality

Myth: Students who graduate from TASIS will not be able to attend Swiss universities.

Reality: This is simply untrue. Both International Baccalaureate (IB) and Advanced Placement (AP) students at TASIS have clear pathways to Swiss universities. TASIS provides the necessary courses and language preparation (German, French, and Italian) for students to apply to institutions in any Swiss canton. The entrance requirements for IB students are outlined here, and the requirements for AP students are detailed here.

Read about a recent TASIS graduate who chose to pursue a Bachelor of Science in International Hotel Management at the world’s top-ranked hotel management school—École Hôtelière de Lausanne—after also receiving offers from London School of Economics, University College London, University of Manchester, and University of Durham.

Myth: The IB Diploma Program is only for students who want to attend university in Europe, and AP courses are only for students who want to attend university in the US.

Reality: Performing well in IB or AP courses, both of which signify an ability to do college-level work, will look very good on a student’s applications. The most selective universities want to see that a student has taken the most challenging course load offered at his or her high school. At most American schools, this would typically consist of a schedule filled with AP courses. But for a school like TASIS that offers both programs, students who are seeking admission to the most selective schools can be well-served by pursuing the International Baccalaureate Diploma, as it signals to universities that they have chosen to challenge themselves in all subject areas. Students can also do quite well for themselves in the admissions process if they excel on a number of AP exams in a broad range of subjects. Scores of four or higher in five or more AP exams will send a strong signal to admissions officers that a student has outstanding academic potential.

Greg Birk, Director of University and College Counseling at TASIS, routinely asks college admissions officers what they consider to be the highest-level, most rigorous curriculum path offered at TASIS. “More and more, they are saying that they put the IBDP at the top,” he said. “This has become increasingly true with American schools.” Birk notes that their answers run contrary to the longstanding myth that the IB Diploma should be pursued by students hoping to study in Europe while those wishing to attend an American university are better off sticking with AP courses. Conversely, many students who take the AP route end up attending excellent colleges in Europe. Read about one example of a recent AP standout at TASIS who chose to stay in Europe.

Myth: When it comes to college admissions, the only thing that really matters is your senior year grades.

Reality: Earning strong grades in a challenging high school curriculum remains the single most important thing a student can do to maximize his or her chances of succeeding in today’s ultra-competitive world of elite college admissions. But grades and strength of course load are not the only factors, as universities will also look closely at SAT/ACT scores, extracurricular activities, leadership roles, application essays, letters of reference, work experience, and community service records, among other considerations.

Students who excel in several of these areas while earning a standard US-accredited High School Diploma from TASIS–with or without AP courses–can still expect to gain admission to quality universities, particularly in the United States. It is, however, important to note that a TASIS High School Diploma on its own is not sufficient to gain admission to degree-level courses at most public universities in Europe (excluding American-style universities). Students who have this diploma must also post strong scores on several Advanced Placement exams to qualify for admission at these universities.

The TASIS University and College Counseling Office, which helps all High School students develop an academic plan that aligns with their post-secondary goals, notes that students seeking to derive the maximum advantage from the IB and AP programs at TASIS are advised to come to the School as early as possible. While IB and AP courses typically begin in grade 11, TASIS offers pre-IB courses for 9th and 10th graders and occasionally allows students to take IB or AP classes in 10th grade.