Have you ever dreamt of spending your undergraduate years being completely immersed in ever-changing global affairs and cultural events? France and the francophone environment have you covered here. Home for headquarters and multiple branches of such renowned global organizations as the United Nations, NATO, European Union and many arts and fashion industries, France offers a rich atmosphere for young people to spend their most formative years in an extremely dynamic environment.
Being the country with one of the cheapest student tuition, spending one’s undergraduate years in a lively and culturally vigorous French educational environment is an attainable and appealing option for a broad array of international students. In order to attract more international students universities in France offer many English-speaking programs. Core courses are designed to help international students keep up with their workload while simultaneously improving their French skills. French universities specializing in humanities and social sciences are ranked in the top hundred in world university rankings and provide high-quality education with courses taught by globally renowned professors. The leading French higher education institutions such as SciencesPo (Paris Institute of Political Studies) and Paris-Sorbonne University rank in the top 50 world universities in Political Sciences and History, respectively. In a long run, getting a world-class education combined with a French cultural dimension develops students’ abilities to thrive in any chosen industry and opens up doors to pursue careers in social work, journalism, fashion, and many more world-leading sectors.
One specificity of the French university system is the separation between public universities and so-called “Grande Ecoles” (the American equivalent of private universities). Grandes Ecoles are very well funded, have relatively small classes, and have significantly higher selectivity than their public counterparts. On the other hand, a selected bunch of business schools are funded privately and thus have higher tuition costs. Overall, both types of higher education institutions in France do a remarkable job in preparing young people for successful entrance into the workforce and rank among the most efficient institutions of higher education worldwide in terms of producing industry-leading graduates.
Like its American and British counterparts, French universities look for well-rounded students who engage in extracurricular activities during their high school years. Whether doing competitive sports, volunteering or working on any specific personal causes during high school, any activity that shows a person’s dedication to a certain topic improves one’s chances of getting admitted to any French institution. As a result, to prepare themselves for success, aspiring French university applicants should partake in extracurricular clubs or engage in internships related to their future aspirations during their high school years.
If you want to study in France, you should initiate the application process in January. Unlike the application procedure for American universities, where a unified application system exists with the same set of deadlines (Common Application), the deadlines for applying to French higher education institutions vary case by case. The registration process usually begins in October, and the application deadline is December. However, other universities organize their admission process in three application rounds. Underneath, you will find the specific application dates for French universities in our network.
France is an exception when it comes to language proficiency tests. As opposed to application processes in the United States and the United Kingdom, where proof of language proficiency is a requirement, only a few institutions consider it a mandatory part of the application. However, in specific universities where all core classes are taught in English, applicants must have an excellent command of the English language. For instance, to be admitted to the Paris Political Institute of Studies (Sciences Po), the applicant's proficiency must be no less than TOEFL 100 or IELTS 7. Generally, the universally accepted exams are TOEFL, PTE Academic, and C1 Advanced.
Although not as broadly applicable as when applying to American or British universities, essays compose a crucial part of the application procedure. French university admission system usually consists of separate parts to holistically assess the candidate, and writing a personal essay is a popular requirement. Many competing students have top grades, extracurricular achievements, etc., but the essays prove the ultimate differentiating factor by allowing each student to tell their unique tale. The most successful pieces are often very creative and incredibly well-written. Atlas mentors help the students refine their writing skills and produce genuine works of art.
Most French universities ask for two teacher recommendations. It is advised to ask for a recommendation from a teacher who teaches the relevant subject and knows students’ ability to learn and their work ethic well enough to write an elaborate and accurate representation of the applicant. Therefore, it's essential to identify the right people to write them and assist them in this journey by providing examples and the student's CV that sheds more light on each activity the student is involved in.
Although the deadlines to submit applications vary depending on the applicant’s choice of admissions stage (In France, there usually exists three separate stages starting at different periods during the senior year), teacher recommendations, standardized test scores, and other documents need to be submitted by the end of March at the latest. However, since there is no centralized application platform when applying to French higher education institutions, one should refer to the application deadline table listed above.
The most common financial aid source for international students studying in France comes from the government-sponsored program called CROUS. To benefit from the CROUS stipend, one must submit proof of enrollment in a chosen study program and their parents’ tax declaration from the previous year. Usually, the deadline to submit the CROUS scholarship is May 15th, and the results come out in late June. However, it has to be taken into consideration that CROUS officials might ask for additional documents regarding one’s financial situation, therefore one should check its’ email for additional requests for documents submission. In addition, each university offers its merit scholarships based on one’s high school achievements; therefore, it is recommended to research each university to find out the possible ways to finance your studies. Lastly, financial support for students through housing aid called CAF exists (Caisse des Allocations Familiales). All students, regardless of their family’s income or scholarship status, are eligible to apply for this form of financial aid.
French universities inform students of their admission begging late May and stretching into September. However, since there exists no unified application platform for accession to French universities, there is no set waiting period for hearing back from admissions offices. Moreover, one should strive to maintain good grades since most higher education institutions consider a student’s high school performance even after he/she was admitted to a specific undergraduate program.
Getting admitted to a top university is the beginning of a long journey. There are many challenges to come, and, in some cases, if the client requests, Atlas mentors continue to work with the student to help them better prepare for upcoming classes, integrate with the community, and not get lost in a sea of opportunities.
As universities in France offer countless courses to choose from, it could be challenging to understand which course is the best one. Atlas mentors will help the student narrow down their list based on university and course rankings, personal experience of Atlas mentors and our organization's extended network of studying within these courses, the structure and nature of each course and how they fit the student’s needs, as well as other factors deemed relevant by the student and the mentor.
Atlas mentors will guide students through the entire application process to ensure that nothing is missed. Students will be informed about admission requirements, French and English language requirements, application documents, relevant deadlines, etc. As universities will only accept the application if it is complete, and reaches the higher education institution before the deadline, guidance is a crucial factor during this phase to ensure that nothing is amiss.
If a motivational letter, Curriculum Vitae (CV) or an interview is required for the application, Atlas mentors will share examples of the best application documents seen throughout the years and will lead the student through a series of writing workshops, covering the best practices and common mistakes. Moreover, by working with mentors, students will have a chance to practice different interview styles and various types of questions.
Although studying at public universities in France is free of charge, the cost of living in cities such as Paris or Marseille is rising sharply. Since this can prove a challenge for many international students, the universities themselves offer scholarships alongside the French government providing CROUS for low-income students alongside housing assistance CAF for all.
In every aforementioned step and any additional help that might be needed, Atlas mentors will bring the latest insights and research from various publications, as well as conversations with direct contacts in university admissions offices, to the table, and ensure that the application will be well-received.
The French university package will not only help the student choose the right university programs and greatly enhance the student’s application, but will also improve the student’s critical thinking skills, and their ability to better present themselves in spoken and written English.
The student will be first matched with a mentor who best fits their profile. The student will then coordinate meeting times with the mentor and proceed with the consultations via Zoom or some other video conferencing platform of choice.
Before and after certain lessons, the students will receive handouts summarizing and expanding on the discussions during the lesson. They will help the students recall and build on what they have learned once the course has concluded.
Students and their parents will be able to contact the mentor teaching the course, as well as the wider Atlas team, at any point. The course materials, as well as any other communication relating to the course, will also be conveyed over email.
No two Atlas packages are the same - we tailor all our offers to meet the needs of each individual student, making sure that the student is provided with the right amount of help and not asked to pay for additional services they consider unnecessary in their particular case. Hence, we give our clients the chance to indicate which parts of the application process they need help with and provide a price quote for that package.