A productive day at UZ and ETH

Our first full day of tours has provided us with more information than I could have ever compiled from my desk at Virginia Tech. The chance to hear from professors with experiences in higher education both in the United States and abroad and PhD students with a variety of backgrounds significantly improved my understanding of ETH and UZ. The more I study the differences between higher ed in US and Switzerland, the more I start to notice similarities as well. For instance, yes, the new tenure process may take place after a different number of years in the Switzerland, but the same types of accomplishments are valued in the same order as in the US. It was the measurement of the success of students that today I found to hold the most striking difference. While in the US first year undergraduate students are evaluated throughout a course on multiple exams, projects, and papers, at ETH students work up to a single test after their first year that defines their future. It seems that this difference may encourage ETH students to seek an overall understanding instead of single grades as we too often see at Virginia Tech. But it was alluded that new European Credit Transfer systems may change this mindset in Swiss students.

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