Traditionally, finishing schools were boarding schools for young women. And like boarding schools today, they housed young women from around the world, for several years at a time. However, these boarding schools did not teach a full academic curriculum.

Contrary to popular belief, there were several types of finishing schools and they could loosely be divided into three categories — for the affluent, for the less affluent, for the academic.

Finishing schools for the affluent focused mostly on etiquette, deportment, sports, playing musical instruments, and foreign languages. Their goal was to teach women how to be cultivated and graceful — how to host, entertain, and socialize with the world’s elite. Some also taught cooking and dressmaking.

The less affluent finishing schools taught etiquette, deportment, and dressmaking as well as “practical” skills like housewifery, typing and data entry.

Academic finishing schools taught etiquette, deportment, elite sports, as well as writing, foreign languages, history and other academic subjects.

Finishing schools were popular in the late 1800s and early 1900s — first in Europe, then in the United States. However, they were unable to maintain their popularity through the hardships that engulfed the world in the following years.

In the 1940s, Europe turned into a battlefield. World War II decimated not only families, but also fortunes. It also made traveling in Europe difficult if not impossible for many women. This was a problem since many women attended finishing schools in foreign countries. Switzerland was a popular choice.

Moreover, as men were off fighting the war and fortunes changed, many women were given a glimpse at what it was like to make money as well as live independently and with less social constraints.

This increased the fight for gender equality at home, in school, in the workspace as well as in banking. By the 1960s, young women preferred finishing high school and enrolling immediately into a university in order to pursue their career goals.

They questioned traditional gender roles. And these questions plus other changes brought finishing schools to the brink of extinction.

Today, finishing schools no longer exist as long term (finishing) boarding schools. Most like Chateau Mont-Choisi, have closed down. A few like Brillantmont and Miss Porter’s have turned into academic schools. And some have turned into etiquette schools where etiquette is taught in a week or less.

Then, there is Balissande Finishing School, the first traditional finishing school online!


Several years ago, the founders of Balissande Finishing School acknowledged one problem society was facing… the inability for leaders and upcoming trailblazers to immerse themselves for months in a life-altering, redefining, refining experience without sacrificing their educational, professional, or familial obligations.

The founders wanted to solve that problem. They wanted to shape a new future by building the 9 C’s in women – confidence, competence, courage, curiosity, connection, compassion, consideration, calm, and choice. So, they created the first online traditional finishing school, teaching many of the subjects past finishing schools taught as well as a few modern ones.

They have made it easy for women around the world — to enroll, learn, and change.