A finishing school (or charm school) is defined as "a private school for girls that emphasizes training in cultural and social activities."The name reflects that it follows an ordinary school and is intended to complete the educational experience. It may consist of an intensive course, or a one-year program.
Switzerland is known for its private finishing schools, such as Institut Villa Pierrefeu or Institut Alpin Videmanette (now closed), where Diana, Princess of Wales studied, and Mon Fertile, where Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall was partly educated. The finishing school that made Switzerland renowned for such institutions was the Institut Villa Mont Choisi, founded in the 1870s, which closed in 1995/6. Other notable schools included Institut Chateau Beau-Cedre which closed in 2002.
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 serving to prepare 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.