Sabine Dippel sabine at
Thu Aug 28 04:03:17 EST 1997

In article <ravena-2708970858120001 at>, ravena at (Karen Allendoerfer) writes:
|> In article <5u1e5k$la4 at>,
|> sabine at (Sabine Dippel) wrote:
|> > All I can say is that here in Germany, the subjects you cover in school before
|> > University are, as much as I can see, far broader than in the US. Therefore, 
|> > in a way the "general education" part you have in the first years of college
|> > was already covered in "High school". 
|> Yes, I think this is true.  I assume that you went to a gymnasium,
|> though.  Do non-gymnasium, non-Abitur students cover this stuff too?  As I
|> said, in the US students aren't tracked early.  Everybody, even the
|> non-academic types, goes to high school.  

Well, as far as prerequisites to University are concerned -- since you can only 
enter University if you have a degree from a "gymnasium", at least everyone 
entering University will have covered this stuff. 

For those who went to the other school type -- they cover essentially the same
subjects, though at maybe a lower level, and the second foreign language is 
not compulsory (though you are advised to take it if you think about moving on
to "gymnasium"). These other school types end at 9th/10th grade. After that, there
is the possibility to enter some professional school for 1 or 2 years (technically
or business or language/secretarial oriented), which also will have some general
education stuff additionally to the professional stuff (I think Maths, German and
English are compulsory there). Or people will go through an apprenticeship, which
means that the have to go to that sort of professional school 2 days a week 
besides working. So school does not necessarily end for the non-academic types 
at that point. It only ends for those who go to work without any specialized 
education - which is a marginal number.

As a matter of fact, the german system is far more open in all directions than 
most people think. You can move between the different school types -- with some
effort at any time, with essentially no effort when some type ends, i.e. when
you finish "Hauptschule" after 9th grade with good results, you can continue
for another year to get a "Realschule" degree, and if you do well there, too,
in principle you can also go on to "Gymnasium" after that. Besides, there are 
a number of possibilities to get the equivalent to the 3 years "Gymnasium" 
in evening classes later on - quite a few people do that. 

There are even schools that incorporate all the school types (called 
"Gesamtschule") up to 10th grade, where you may have different subjects 
at different levels. This is certainly an option for kids that are very 
strong in some subjects and very weak in others (though, I admit, few 
people see it this way, because "Gesamtschule" has been used by too many
parties for their political causes -- but that would lead too far). 

So you are not labeled too strongly in 5th grade -- sure, kids are sorted
into different school types, but they can always change - which a certain 
percentage does. Pretty much the only problem with this sorting is probably
the social component - you do end up finding particular sorts of people in 
the different school types - so as far as social diversity goes, I guess 
american schools score much better.

Anyway, maybe all this is getting slightly off-topic.

Hope I could clarify some things,


| Sabine Dippel     | e-mail: s.dippel at                  | 
| HLRZ              | phone : [++49] (2461) 61-2318                   | 
| FZ Juelich        | fax   : [++49] (2461) 61-2430                   | 
| 52425 Juelich     | WWW   : | 
| Germany           |                                                 | 

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