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Le Rosey: The Most Expensive School in the World

A Profile of the Swiss Boarding School


Le Rosey: The Most Expensive School in the World

The Tour de France in 2000 along Lake Geneva or Lac Leman

Tom Able-Green/Getty Images Sport

According to an article in Business Insider, Riverdale Country School in the Bronx, New York, is the most (or among the most) expensive private day high schools in the country. In 2011, the tuition reached $40,450, and many other New York private day schools also charge near or close to $40,000. (The article about the country's most expensive private high schools excluded boarding schools and special education schools.)

But tuition at the most expensive school in the world far dwarfs even the cost of the priciest New York City Schools. Le Rosey is a boarding school in Switzerland at which tuition exceeds USD $100,000 a year. The school was founded in 1880 by Paul Carnal. Students enjoy a bilingual (French and English) and bicultural education in a lovely campus.

Students spend their time on two lavish campuses--one in Rolle on Lake Geneva and a winter campus in the mountains at Gstaad. The reception area of the Rolle campus is located in a medieval chateau. The roughly seventy-acre campus contains boarding houses (the girls' campus is located nearby), academic buildings with about 50 classrooms and eight science laboratories, and a library with 30,000 volumes. The campus also includes a theater, three dining rooms where students dine in formal dress, two cafeterias, and a chapel. Each morning, students have a chocolate break in true Swiss style. Some students receive scholarships to attend Le Rosey. The school has also undertaken many charitable projects, including building a school in Mali, Africa, at which many students volunteer.

On campus, the students are able to participate in activities as diverse as flying lessons, golf, horse riding, and shooting. The school's athletic facilities include ten clay tennis courts, an indoor pool, a shooting and archery range, a greenhouse, an equestrian center, and a sailing center. The school is in the midst of building Carnal Hall, designed by renowned architect Bernard Tschumi, which will feature an 800-seat auditorium, music rooms, and art studios, among other spaces. The project reportedly costs tens of millions of dollars to construct.

Since 1916, students at Le Rosey have spent January through March in the mountains in Gstaad to escape the fog that descends on Lake Geneva in the winter. In a fairytale-like setting in which students live in pleasant chalets, Roseans spend the morning in lessons and the afternoons enjoying skiing and skating in the fresh air. They also have use of indoor fitness centers and an ice hockey rink. The school is reportedly looking to relocate its winter campus from Gstaad.

All students sit for the International Baccalaureate (IB) or the French baccalauréat. Roseans, as the students are called, can study all subjects in French or English, and they enjoy a 5:1 student-to-faculty ratio. To ensure a truly international education for its students, the school will only take 10% of its 400 students, ages 7-18, from any one country, and about 60 countries are represented in the student body.

The school educates some of the best-known families in Europe, including the Rothschilds and the Radziwills. In addition, the school's alumni include many monarchs, such as Prince Rainier III of Monaco, King Albert II of Belgium, and Aga Khan IV. Famous parents of students have included Elizabeth Taylor, Aristotle Onassis, David Niven, Diana Ross, and John Lennon, among countless others. Winston Churchill was the grandfather of a student at the school. Interestingly, Julian Casablancas and Albert Hammond, Jr., members of the band the Strokes, met at Le Rosey. The school has been featured in countless novels, such as Bret Easton Ellis's American Psycho (1991) and Answered Prayers: The Unfinished Novel by Truman Capote.

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