School me on French universities!
November 2, 2012 8:19 PM Subscribe
Explain to me the structure and reputation of the Paris universities. And, while we're at it, how about explaining the French tertiary educational system as well?
posted by UniversityNomad to Education (5 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Embarrassing as it is to admit it, today the full weight of the realization hit me that I frankly have no idea whatsoever how the French tertiary educational system works. I hear all about Paris X, or Paris IV (the Sorbonne?), or whatever, but I have no idea how all of it fits together, or which universities are known for what. I have some vague suspicion that there are some sort of competitive institutes that are separate, like Sciences Po, but I could be totally misguided here. I'd love the more Continentally-suave MeFites to tell me about how the French university system functions, especially:
1. Do you go to French university straight from what Americans could consider high school? Is entrance decided on a test? Essay or multiple-choice? Is it all academic, or are there extra-curricular factors in the admissions calculus? Do most people go to university, or would most people leave after secondary school to get a job or go into the trades? Are all universities state rather than private? What range is the tuition cost?
2. Do you just study one subject at undergrad, like the English or the Germans, or is a broader distribution of subjects? How is the grading done? Is it exam-based, or do homework and participation count? Are there grad TAs? How hands-on are the professors? How does the undergrad/grad experience differ from other Western countries?
3. Which universities are the most prestigious? Or does it not really work like that, and people mostly go to their local one? Do students generally live at home during undergrad? Are the universities' grad reputations different from undergrad?
4. What's the deal with things like Science Po? Are these primarily undergraduate, or graduate? How do they compare in structure, funding, and reputation with the others?
5. And describe to me the Paris universities in particular. Why are there so many? Are they for different academic specialties? Is it from the original university splitting, or is it from new branches founding? What is each known for? Which (if any) is a descendent of the famous medieval University of Paris? Is the structure comparable to a US state university system (say, UC Berkeley, UC Davis, UC Irvine, ec.), or would this be a misunderstanding? Are there universities in Paris that aren't part of the University of Paris system? Are the Paris universities similar to those in other French cities? Are the universities in other French cities split in a similar way, or is there mainly only one?
5. What else is missing from my questions above? Correct my ignorance, MeFites, please!