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Visit The Middle School Schloss Salem

резиденция средней школы Салем

Salem School has always been at the top of my personal ranking of international high schools in Europe, even before my first visit to this school. Over the years of working with this school, my impression was formed by the results of graduates, feedback from students and parents, publications on the Internet, stories from industry experts. But I did not succeed in visiting this school itself - the school is located away from the usual tourist routes. It is not very convenient to travel there - the nearest airport is Zurich in an hour's drive, German international airports are much further away.

Therefore, when planning a car tour of international high schools in Europe, I, first of all, wanted to see Salem, and only then I considered which other schools would be conveniently included in the route.

The visit to Salem High School at Schloss Salem Castle turned out to be the most intense in terms of schedule and meetings. I toured the area, met with the director for work with international students Dagmar, school teachers, and our student Alexander, who told me about the life of Middle School Schloss Salem.

Salem Castle is located 11 kilometers from Lake Constance. In the center of the castle, on the territory of the former Cistercian monastery, there is now a Salem secondary school. Part of the territory is open to tourists who are attracted by the timeless buildings of the monastery, the stunning cathedral in the center of the castle, cozy hotels, and restaurants in Salem, and the famous wineries of this region.

The school occupies 9 buildings of this huge historic castle, including a newly built gymnasium and swimming pool. In addition, there are numerous playing and sports fields on the adjacent fields: tennis courts, a football field, and a volleyball court. About 250 pupils of 8-10 grades study and live here.

Some service classes are held in the large schoolyard: a fire brigade, civil self-defense, and medical assistance course, and a water rescue course is held on Lake Constance.

The high school occupies 2 separate campuses in Uberlingen on Lake Constance, 10 km from the Middle School Schloss Salem campus. This is the Spetzgart campus, where 11th-grade students live and study - about 200 students. And the most modern campus of Salem - Harlen, where graduate students live and study. On the campus of the junior school - Burg Hohenfels - pupils of 5-7 grades live and study - only about 70 children. Burg Hohenfels is Selem's coziest and homey campus.

Despite the fact that Salem School offers an international program in English (IB) and a German program (Abitur), students from both the German and the international programs share the same campuses: the division is only based on age. That is, in any of the 4 campuses, studying is taking place in both programs, which helps all students to learn both languages ​​and to be fluent in both.

Admission to the School Salem

Meeting with Dagmar helped me understand how to prepare a student for successful school entrance and what I need to know if a student chooses between the German Abitur program or the international IB program.

Most often, German schools accept foreign students no higher than in grade 9. Admission to Grade 10 immediately prior to the Abitur program is rather an exception. As Dagmar says, it is not enough to know the language well to study in German at school. You need to write well in German, know academic terms, but, most often, the problem is not with the language, but with the fact that students have not studied, for example, German history, ethics, politics, or it is difficult for them to keep up with biology in German. The program of the German school is very rich and foreign students are allowed to study for one year without certification as guest students in order to join the educational process. But this is impossible in the 10th grade since for admission to Abitur you need a good average annual performance and the results of the 10th-grade examinations are not lower than "3".

As for admission to an international program, it is easier. With a B2 level of English and high performance in the previous school, you can immediately enter grade 11 for a two-year IB program. This is because the choice of subjects does not have to be based on fluency in the language. You can, for example, take economics instead of history. Statistics or mathematics are also not tied to knowledge of the language. In addition, one of the IB subjects may be a native language - this is not possible on Abitur. There are compulsory subjects that need to be studied at a higher level, and there are subjects that can be studied at a non-in-depth level, but the choice is much less than on an international program.

Although for the successful completion of the IB it is better, of course, to also study according to the international program in the 10th grade, since in the 10th grade, in addition to academic subjects, there is an active preparation for the IB. But just with places when entering grade 11 is easier than 10.

In the IB program, Salem students must also study German. Those who have not studied German before and entered the IB right away can take German at a lower level, but, in this case, it is very unlikely that after graduation they will have a German higher than A1-A2.

When planning admission, it should be borne in mind that Salem accepts no more than 5 Russian speakers per program per year. Applications can be submitted from October to May, in order to enter the school, it is imperative to come to the exams in person. From January to May, there are several official open house days, when all students whose application forms have been accepted and approved come to take exams, interview, and get to know the school. In addition, if the documents have been approved, then you can come to the individual exams and examination of the school.

For admission to an international program up to grade 11, tests in mathematics and English are required, for admission to grade 11 - the third test in one of the sciences, and when choosing a third language - an exam in this language. Most students enter the international program in grade 10 or immediately to the IB. As soon as the first 5 Russian speakers have successfully passed the exams and are enrolled in the school, places are no longer open. This is due to the rules of the IB program. The fact is that in the IB program you need to study one of the languages ​​at an advanced level, including literature. Usually, international students who are just starting to study in English or have studied for a year do not have enough English knowledge to successfully pass the advanced level exams. Therefore, students choose Russian. The problem is that, according to the rules of the program, more than 5 students in a class cannot study an in-depth subject, and the school cannot open the second class of the Russian language, so as not to upset the balance of students speaking the same language.

We also discussed the question which is interesting to all: the quota for which our students enter the state universities in Germany. Many people believe that if you graduate from high school in Germany, then you enter the university according to quotas for Germans. In fact, this is completely wrong. Regardless of where you studied and what program, when entering a German university, our students enter the quota for foreign students. This is very important when applying for rating specialties. For example, when entering a medical faculty, citizens of the European Union sometimes have to compete with hundreds of applicants for one place, while for foreigners the ratio for the same faculty may be one to three or five. At the same time, studying at a German school will give the applicant only advantages, since both the international program and the Abitur program allow you to apply directly to the first year without a preparatory program and entrance exams, only the results of graduation and the level of German are taken into account.

After touring Middle School Schloss Salem and meeting with the Director of International Student Affairs Dagmar, I visited the campuses of Spetzgart and Harlen High School. In addition, I interviewed students on each of these campuses, which helped me see the life of the school through the eyes of the students.


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