My experience applying to a French University

Elin Roberts is a former Seren student that is now a first-year student at Sciences Po Paris Politiers.

 

Never had I imagined that I would be attending to university in France, let alone Sciences Po Paris, Poitiers. Two years ago, I wasn’t even aware the university existed. I had only really considered two options: either studying in the UK or possibly the US.

 

When I was considering studying in the UK, I was primarily interested in Law. For this reason, I applied to study Law and French Law. However, I also had a love for Politics, History, Economics and foreign languages, and worried that the UK universities were limiting my opportunity to pursue all of my academic passions. I therefore began looking into universities in other countries in the hope of widening my academic opportunities.

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I first heard about Sciences Po Paris when I interned in my MP’s office in Westminster. There was another intern who had studied at Sciences Po Paris, but at the Dijon campus. She spoke about how she was able to study all of the social sciences in her degree, including History, Law, Politics, Economics, Sociology and languages. I became intrigued at this and was eager to learn more.

 

From my research I discovered that Sciences Po Paris is made up of 7 regional campuses. Each campus focuses on different areas of the world. At the beginning I was interested in Le Havre (Asian & Chinese Affairs) and Dijon (Eastern European affairs). However, I quickly changed my mind after visiting Patagonia, Argentina later that year and becoming mesmerized by Latin American affairs. Hence, I decided to apply Poitiers, which is where I’m studying now.

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The application process for Sciences Po Paris was very different from that of UCAS. I was the first student from my college to apply to the university, so the process was very unfamiliar to us all. In the Sciences Po application one writes a lettre du motivation, similar to a personal statement, but in a different style of writing. There are also separate spaces to include the following: extra-curricular activities, internships, international experiences and a CV.

 

After completing the application, I was invited for an interview in London, which was in French. The Sciences Po interview differed from my Oxford interview. In the Sciences Po interview I analysed a French newspaper article on Latin American affairs and then presented this to the interviewer. I then answered various questions regarding my presentation and my application.

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To prepare for the interview, my college (Coleg Meririon-Dwyfor) provided me with numerous mock interviews, as well as any extra oral sessions to discuss Latin American affairs in French. The Seren Network was also very helpful, for instance arranging a mock interview for me with a doctorate student at Oxford University.

 

Applying to Sciences Po Paris has highlighted the importance of extra-curricular activities to me, something I’m grateful the Seren Network flagged to us at the beginning of year 12. If you’re in year 12, this year I urge you to participate in extra-curricular activities. Look for summer internships and apply to summer schools. Look for opportunities within the PRIME Scheme, Social Mobility Business Partnership and Social Mobility Foundation. You might not be successful with every application, but unless you try, you’ll never know. And the benefits you’ll experience personally, as well as towards your university applications, will be so worth it. So, this year give yourself a challenge: try something new and dive into the unknown!

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I would like to thank the Seren Network for their support over the past two years in aiding with my university application and exploration higher education of choices. I would also like to thank Coleg Meirion-Dwyfor, especially Dr. Gareth Lanagan, for their support from applying for summer internships to applying to university.

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