Straight talk on Sciences Po?
November 7, 2011 3:20 PM Subscribe
Can anyone give me some straight talk on Sciences Po, otherwise known as l'Institut d'Etudes Politiques de Paris? It's quite expensive and I don't know that I could get in, but on the other hand, it could be an awesome opportunity.
posted by peakes to Education (8 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I'm a dual US/EU citizen currently living and working in southern France. I've been thinking hard about it for almost two years now, and I still can't help wanting to work on the city/regional level, in public policy. (Social justice, idealistic white girl from a low-income family, etc.) I prefer to to continue to make my life in France for as long as that is viable, so I'm left considering my options in the French higher education system. Sciences Po de Paris is almost the only school of political science that offers the field of study I want, and is certainly the most reputable. Unlike most applicants to ScPo, it is no longer my goal to work for the United Nations or become a high-level EU official of awesome--I couldn't get a position like that, for one thing, and for another, urban/regional management interests me more (especially transportation and sustainable development).
However, there's an excellent chance that even if I were accepted to ScPo, and to the program I want (Stratégies Territoriales et Urbaines--Regional and Urban Studies/Management)--I would wind up paying a hefty sum, at least for the first year (13.000 euros). It would also of course mean living in Paris, which for me would mean a chambre de bonne, a steady diet of ramen noodles and probable social rejection. Opinions on the value of a ScPo degree vary wildly based on what I've read and heard so far: "ScPo graduates are the elite of France! Their job prospects are endless!" "It's just a school for the children of rich Parisians to polish their credentials. If your name isn't Fancy du Fancypants, forget it." "It's the Harvard of France!! Do whatever it takes to go there (but you probably can't)!!"
I realize this is a highly specific and in many ways subjective question, but can any of the wise, down-to-earth denizens of MeFi help me out here? Is applying to ScPo, let alone paying for it, worth the effort? Or should I just disregard criticism of the French public university system, and enroll at Université de Paris Number Umpteen? I also realize this is yet another "confused twentysomething" post, so I would be very grateful to anyone patient enough to read and give some feedback. Thank you.
(Coldly practical shut-downs of my intended field are also welcome, but I have to admit: I know I sound like a whiny kid, but given the continuing meltdown of almost every sector...I'm kind of at my wits' end as far as practical career choices.)
Brief background in case anyone finds it useful: BA in History (minors EU studies and music) , University of Washington (Seattle), June 2011. 3.7 cumulative (higher in-major, blah blah). Senior thesis, French/English research, 3.9 and positive feedback from advisor, respected in the field (not OMGSOFAMOUS, but well-respected). No honors because missed required class while on independent study-abroad in France. French language test results sufficient for admission. Currently teaching English in a French high school (teaching program selective, but not like the Peace Corps or anything). Obvious missing aspect is related internship, which I realize is crucial for a) knowing whether I actually want to do this sort of work and b) applying to school, but at 6 months out of undergrad, I already feel like I'm losing time and just need to get my @ss into a profession already--whether or not I ultimately do it by going to ScPo.