Now that you are aware of the schools attended by French students before the Baccalauréat, let’s see what possibilities they have for the following years. You will notice that there is a variety of institutions, the biggest one being the “fac” (university).
Fac – French university
Students who passed their Baccalauréat can go to the « fac » and follow the course of their choosing. It is strongly recommended to follow a course which corresponds to one’s previous education, but it is not compulsory – thus, some students study English after having specialized in science for their Baccalauréat, and some study physics after having specialized in literature (!!). French universities are almost free (around 400 Euros a year), and, except for some special cases, there is no limit to the number of students who enroll.
University is chosen by the majority of students, whether they come from France or from abroad.
French universities are generally good, but it can still be difficult to work there, especially during the first couple of years, as lecture rooms are packed and not everyone is there to learn.
Therefore, some decide to study in smaller, but more selective, structures. For instance, they can follow two-year courses called BTS or IUT, after which they can look for a job or keep on studying (either in a university or somewhere else).
During their first two years of study, they can go to a « classe préparatoire aux grandes écoles », which is an intensive course in several subjects to prepare for the entrance exams of the most prestigious French schools.
Private schools are another solution, but they are more expensive. They have a limited number of students, and they often put the emphasis on work and professionalization. Students do several internships during their studies, which helps them find a job after they graduate. But one year costs between 6 000 and 10 000 Euros – these schools are not open to all…
Very often, students’ answer to this large choice of possibilities is to combine them. For instance, some do a BTS two-year course, before doing their third year at uni. Some others choose to go to uni for three years, before taking a gap year to work and be able to pay for a private school for their masters.
Almost all combinations are possible for students who are motivated and have a precise plan.
In the third part of the article, we will talk about some programs to study abroad, as well as the choices international students have in France.