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A finishing school is a school for young people, mostly women, that focuses on teaching social skills and cultural norms as a preparation for entry into adult society. The name reflects that it follows on from ordinary school and is intended to complete the education, with classes primarily on etiquette. It may consist of an intensive course, or a one-year programme. In the United States it is sometimes called a charm school. In Tsarist Russia it was known as the Institute for Noblewomen.
Switzerland was known for its private finishing schools, such as Institut Alpin Videmanette (now closed), which Diana, Princess of Wales attended; Mon Fertile, where the Duchess of Cornwall was partly educated; Institut Le Mesnil, which Queen Anne-Marie of Greece attended; and Institut Château Beau-Cedre, which closed in 2002. The finishing schools that made Switzerland renowned for such institutions were Brillantmont International School founded in 1882, now an international high school and Château Mont-Choisi, founded in 1885, which closed in 1995 or 1996. A Swiss finishing school that still exists thanks to a constantly updated curriculum is Institut Villa Pierrefeu, in Glion which was founded in 1954.
The term finishing school is occasionally used in American parlance to refer to certain small women's colleges, primarily on the East Coast, that were known for preparing their female students for marriage. Since the 1960s, many of these schools have become defunct as a result of financial difficulties stemming from parents' decreased interest in paying for such an education for their daughters, and changing societal norms making it easier for daughters to pursue academic and professional paths not open to previous generations.
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