Tutorial Transcript

Salut YouTube today I'm here with a real-life French person! Look, she's real! Hi I'm Madeline, I'm from Paris. The reason I got Madeline into this video today is because I've got this topic that I've wanted to cover for a long time which is on the French education system so very much focused on the higher level education we're talking bachelor's degrees master's degrees because the way it works here is not obvious especially not to foreigners. There a big difference between universities and what are called these Grandes Ecoles which are these private schools which Madeline is going to tell us all about later so if you want to know a little bit more about the French education system how it works differently stick around and we're going to cover all of that in the next few minutes. Madeline explain to us you know when you are at the end of your high school years in France what options do you have? Okay so mainly you will have like two main options the first one would be like to go to what you said a Grande Ecole which is the equivalent of a private university let's say most of the time and the other option will be to go to a public university but what you have to know is that there is already a different process in the selection like for public university you don't have any selection so as long as you've passed it's okay most of the time like there are some exceptions but let's say the big picture would be that private Grande Ecole then you will have a higher selection process most of the time also people do what we call classe préparatoire which is like two years preparation to do the selection process right so you study for two years just to enter a competition just to see which school you can get into. Yes. Not for public universities but it's true for most of Engineering schools, Business schools also. I've heard a lot about this "prépa" as they call it and it sounds like hell. It sounds like very military like all my friends who have done it had the same experience like they worked all day long all night long you really study study hard and you're not even sure to get it at the end. Isn't it true that with the grading system as well it's like really really harsh? Sure! Sometimes for Classe Préparatoire you can have your profs telling you oh you got 4 out of 20 it would be like nice piece of work like you've done it well and all your friends around you got 2! So you're like WOW I'm the best of the class! It's so harsh, it's never good enough. And I don't even get why they do that it's probably to push you, push your boundaries, find your limits and see how far you can go and how far you can study. I have to admit like when I came to France I noticed that this was a really big thing about the difference between universities and Grandes Ecoles. I've worked mostly in let's say CAC40 companies like the big multinational French companies and stuff so they're very selective but you know whenever I meet people for the first time I'm like 'Hi! Cool, so what university did you do?' and I get this reaction like I'm not sure if you know how the French education system works but I didn't actually go to university and we go to what we call a Grande Ecole and so I noticed straight away that there was a stigma around it. According to you what are the big differences in the students that go to university versus Grande Ecole? I would say first like what you said sounds totally true. So students in France they know that their choice about schools universities whatever will kind of define themselves because in the workplace what is the most important in France is your diploma and the name of your school and not necessarily let's say your personality your skills or whatever and your experiences not always like it's really your diplmoa that is important so people will choose between these two big options. Grande Ecole the main difference is that they will really allow you to network a lot with your peers with professionals you do a lot of internships you've got a lot of professional experiences that you do not have if you go to public universities it's very much about like get the job get the job get the job whereas I imagine universities a little bit still more around learning getting the content and thinking for yourself and knowing how to be critical thinker etcetera so I think maybe there's more of a more practical element of Grande Ecole but I was quite shocked because I work in HR and It's very much been like take candidates from the top five schools and I was like but we could be missing like the most motivated talented person that's gonna hit the ground running and shake things up in the company and they're like you know no the managers say that they have become either from HEC, ESCP or ESSEC In France I've noticed that managers will actually define like I only want someone from HEC. That's so funny because what we say in France it's like "Ils sont de la maison", like they're from the same house and it's like Harry Potter you're from Gryffindor and so managers are like if they've got two people if there is one that is from the same school as they were they'll definitely, and it's natural also, like they're definitely gonna prefer the one that went to the same university or school. It's a little bit bad for diversity. I know know but I feel like there is a let's say just a little bit of change around that and like companies are trying a lot more to find other people than just the top five schools. In some companies the people who do the Grande Ecole they start on a higher salary than university students for exactly the same job. Grandes Ecoles, if I understand correctly, you've gone through very competitive exams to get in so you usually surrounded by kind of intellectual elite but it's also it's costly to go to some of these schools so it's also sort of let's say an echelon of society and so you've got a really good network, you've got lots of professional experiences so you're building a professional network. And so Madeline, you tell me, because you've gone to university yourself and you're working in a really big company right now so what would you say were the benefits of studying at a university? Well one main benefit of going to university would be that is cheap because the state is paying for that so you don't have to put three thousand a year it's like three hundred so definitely anyone can do it and that's why you got so much diversity at University and that's so great like you can meet so many different people it's enriching and interesting that you cannot really have in Grandes Ecoles. Grandes Ecoles everyone is kind of the same and definitely years passing by everyone becomes the same. Yeah you can sometimes tell, you can go to a party and you'll be like oh I know which school you went to, you don't even need to tell me. So with the Grandes Ecoles and Classe Prépa it's very very difficult to get into the Grandes Ecoles but once you're in it's relatively easy to pass and because we're not so obsessed with academic transcripts in France you can just get 10 out of 20 your whole way through doesn't matter you don't care about your grades and it's kind of like once you're in all you have to do is pass and you've got that name on your CV and you're fine but at university it's a bit harder isn't it because it's very self-directed because there is no selection at the beginning, the selection will happen later like years passing by you will have exams not everyone's gonna pass so definitely there is a selection so you have to be really autonomous one thing you get from University for sure, independence, it's not gonna be easy all the time and you're gonna have to learn by yourself you know you have to read you're gonna have to, you know, think a little bit like different like the only thing you learn at the University is that there is no truth and every time you learn something then you have to be critical about it. Grandes Ecoles also you've got a lot of parties you got a lot of let's say student life you don't really have at university that's also kind of weakness is that you do you do not really network with other people or whatever but what I really feel that is, what I really like from University is that you get this kind of share and participatory culture like helping each other there's not such a competitive spirit like I don't know it's really different like the mindset of the people is really different. When you're in a university do you even kind of imagine working for a company? No no It's really like for me like when I did my application to a big company private company you know everyone was like "Madeline, why would you do that?" like there's no point and then I had an interview and they were like wow you're lucky you like consider yourself as lucky but you're not gonna go through that and it's gonna stop right now then I made it. Why did they think that you wouldn't get in? Because this is really like something that is in everyone's mind that for example from University every time you will hear like you've got two options. First you can do like research or you can work for public companies but stop thinking about private companies this is for Grandes Ecoles. Because you hear that all day long you kind of start to really think that way and you got people from university they won't have enough confidence to think 'Oh, I don't care about the system, I can do it myself and do my way and apply for private companies' and so it's a vicious cycle because this is stigma about university students that may be too theoretical and they won't be able to work in the business world and the University students who are willing to work talented smart but they're like oh I'll never get in anyway so you don't apply and so you don't get considered and yeah it's so frustrating. I would say like if you have to, is there a real difference. My opinion is that yes there is a difference because those worlds are quite closed and do not meet so many times like if you're from University you can hang out with people from University and same for Grandes Ecoles However, the thing is like anything else both can adapt and easily and what's important is the people behind it's because like it's not a real difference it's a representative one. Yeah coz you don't learn different things I mean if you're studying communications in university or in a Grande Ecole it's the same content sure no it is it's definitely not as simple as that and luckily it's not yes I think this system has a lot of benefits a lot of downfalls and I know that sometimes people go to university because they love to learn and they love to be self-directed and then they'll go to the business school just for the last year or two, have the stamp on the CV, I find these kinds of measures quite extreme that you've got a lot of people in France with two masters one from university one from Grandes Ecoles and even within the Grandes Ecoles network it's like oh you just did your masters at Grande Ecole. So you're not a real one! I find this whole system super fascinating but thank you so much for shedding some light for us I'd love to hear what you guys think please comment down below especially if you're French, if you've been to Grande Ecole, if you've been to University honestly it would be really really interesting for us to continue this discussion down there but until the next video I'll see you guys next time thanks for watching à bientôt !