Directions: These French college students managed to have a high American college on their resume

Posted on Apr 7, 2022, 7am

One thing is for sure: Racem has a great resume. After joining the Ecole des Ponts, he flew to the United States for a double degree at the prestigious MIT. “A huge and very impressive campus. The courses are more hands-on than in France, with lots of case studies, practical group work, all with professors who are all big names in the academic world.”, recalls Racem. Result: he gets a job in November, while his master’s doesn’t finish until the following summer. Today, our graduate works in London, in the world of private equity.

“Concrete” academic record

Like Racem, students around the world dream of stepping through the doors of the best American universities. In France, there are 6,000 every year to carry out a degree mobility in the United States, all facs combined. To do this, the simplest way is to use the partnerships that already exist between your French establishment and American universities.

Difficulty: The most prestigious choose their partners carefully. Of course, you will have to come from the best French establishments. On the engineering school side, for example, CentraleSupélec sends students every year to MIT, Stanford, Berkeley and Columbia, but also to Harvard and Princeton. “To access it, you need a concrete academic record, as these universities are very selective. Our partnerships are privileged paths, but you still need to be among the best students in your class »highlights Marc Zolver, director of international relations at the school.

test and file

Step one: Take international tests such as TOEFL, GRE or GMAT, which are required to apply. Caroline, a student at Mines Nancy, joined Cornell, 12th world university in Shanghai ranking: “In addition to the academic record requirements, I had to pass the GRE, which combines English, logic, text, and math. It’s a very specific format, I trained for two months to be successful.”, she explains. Mission accomplished for Caroline, who thus has a double degree.

It is also necessary to protect your file, with letters of recommendation from professors and former advisors, then with the famous “essay”, an unavoidable letter of motivation in the United States. “There is a great dimension to storytelling, it’s a complicated exercise, because we didn’t learn in France: we have to show how everything we’ve done in our lives has led us to this moment, build a story around his candidacy »recalls Racem, who took the time to learn about MIT before he started writing.

Racem and Ayoub during their respective American years.RD

A cost to consider

There remains the delicate issue of tuition fees. The general rule is that for a one-semester mobility, the student pays only to his/her home school. On the other hand, as part of a double degree, or if you enroll directly, you pay for the entire year at the American university. “The tuition at Yale and MIT for students enrolled in our dual graduates is about $79,000 or more. Of course, the students in question can benefit from the scholarship systems created by these institutions! », explains Philippe Oster, director of international relations at HEC, which also offers partnerships with NYU, UCLA, Upenn (University of Pennsylvania) and Johns Hopkins. One hell of a cost…

Quite a cost… Racem got a scholarship to MIT, but he still got a student loan. Because to get the visa, you must prove that you have the necessary funds to live there: “I come from a modest family, it was an ordeal to get a loan! These steps with the banks, then to obtain the visa were complicated. »

If you don’t need the degree as such, some partnerships become very interesting. Like the one that Rahima, a student at the Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne University, took advantage of. For six months, she flew to New York and Columbia University. “I have just paid the tuition fees for Paris 1. It is very exceptional to be able to study at a university like this, without having to go into debt”, she rejoices. Rahima teaches “great” it is a “beautiful human and cultural experience”.

A “big plus” on your CV

Especially since in the CV, this line can be important. Especially with a degree. “In addition to the human and academic experience, it allows us to be part of the network of graduates of both institutions! The double degree is an excellent professional stepping stone, especially if you intend to enter professional life in the United States »agrees Philippe Oster of HEC.

Caroline and Maximilien during their respective American years.

Caroline and Maximilien during their respective American years.RD

When school is over, however, if you want to stay in the United States, you will have to quickly find a job, you will only have a few months.… “It’s a pressure during the year for those seeking! Lucky for me, I joined the master in August and had my contract in September. Having Cornell on the resume was a great advantage, the university is in contact with many companies, which helps to pass the first rounds of selection”, explains Caroline, who spent three years in New York working at EY. She has since returned to France, by choice, working at Accenture.

Rahima also saw interest from recruiters for her experience across the Atlantic. “I got an internship at the OECD thanks to Columbia, because I attended a seminar there, after which I could be recommended. Subsequently, at each interview, I was asked about my course on the subject, knowing that in the field of arbitration, the professors I had there are very recognized. It was decisive for the beginning of my career.”confirms Rahima, who currently works in an international corporate law firm, in parallel with her training at the Bar School.

Encounters and Opportunities

Different field, same happy memory: Maximilien, educated in Edhec, passed through Berkeley. “It was a great opportunity, we were pushed towards entrepreneurship, to try out many projects, without being judged in case of failure. That’s how I started creating my start-up, Boomerang Recommerce, to help second-hand clothing brands integrate. It didn’t work because of the health crisis, but it was a good experience.”, he says. The young graduate quickly bounced back, finding a position as marketing director for an industrial start-up still in California. Thanks to a meeting held in Berkeley, there too.

Ayoub can attest to that too… As an Isae-Supaero student, he chose the University of Michigan (top 30 in Shanghai rankings, 6th in aerospace engineering). Once there, he is passionate about a course dedicated to flows in aeronautics and space and exchanges with the professor. The latter, highly recognized in this field, becomes its thesis director. “After a year, I wanted to change the subject, he put me in touch with a collaborator who works at NASA. It was a great opportunity, much simpler than in France », estimates Ayoub, currently a postdoctoral fellow at NASA’s Ames Research Center. In other words, a good start to a career start!

And summer camps?

Many American universities offer summer camps on their campuses. The opportunity for all those who do not have such partnerships in their faculty or in their school to discover them during the school holidays.

Harvard, for example, offers three to seven week sessions, which end with a certificate. Likewise, Stanford, Caltech or Yale offer “summer sessions”. It won’t be a real degree in good and proper form, but the opportunity to discover these campuses, and have one of those prestigious names popping up on your resume…

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