What’s it like to review in the US?

American courses have little to do with French ones. Pedagogy, personal workload, relationship with teachers: you will have to adapt to a very different system. Here is a summary of what awaits you, taken from the book “Leave to study abroad” by Sophie Collet.

Campuses with huge lawns cut to the millimeter, beautiful Victorian buildings, exuberant parties and students with radiant smiles: the myth of American campuses is well anchored in the collective imagination. But in reality, what does it give?

The American Dream…on a Campus

“On one campus you can find everything: supermarkets, libraries, laundries, restaurants, sports courts with free access, concert halls, cinemas, bars…” enthuses David, who spent a year at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy in Boston.

Campuses, with their vast, manicured lawns, are something of a hallmark of American universities. They also form real villas in the city (or sometimes in the countryside), punctuated by his own life, with exams, concerts, disguised parties… So much so that when campuses are out of the way, students almost never leave.

Read too Julie’s Testimony: “My life as a business student in Raleigh”

American diplomas

Theoretically, you could leave after your bachelor’s degree and prepare for any American degree. But higher education experts recommend leaving after the license or even after the master’s 1.

the bachelor

The baccalaureate takes place in four years. It is the diploma most elaborated by the Americans, obtaining it crowning the “graduation” cycle. But its recognition is not guaranteed in France.

The master

“Graduations” are best known outside the United States. For young French people, it is considered more strategic to go abroad at this level. Most bags are also provided for this stay.

The notoriety of masters in France comes mainly from the MBA (“master in business administration”), but there are also other types of masters: “master of arts” (human sciences), “master of sciences” (scientific areas). , “master in law” (law), “master in public administration”, “master in management” (management).

the doctorate

That acronym means doctorate in philosophy, but the Americans kept that denomination whatever the discipline. The doctorate takes six or seven years (courses and research) and ends with the defense of a thesis on a sharp topic.

Read too: Studying in the United States: colleges, postgraduate studies… what’s the difference?

A personalized accompaniment

In the United States, despite the pharaonic dimensions of universities, students benefit from the individual monitoring provided by various services. In return, they must provide a lot of personal work. “The courses are less dense than in France, says David. But sometimes there are 1,000 pages to read from one week to the next.”

The “Teaching Advisor”

Each student chooses an advisor, a “teacher advisor”, from among their professors. This key figure in your studies can help you with any educational issue, especially at the beginning of the year when you have to choose your subjects.


“In America, teachers are real coaches!” David exclaims. The American system is based on more exchanges between teachers and students than the French system. “The professors are also very available, they receive students in their office to better assess their expectations.”

career service

Finding a small job on campus, an internship at a company or a first job… American students are much more supported by the administration for their entry into the job market than their French counterparts. The “careers office” puts a database of student resumes and job offers online, and even organizes interview preparation sessions.

“This religion of management sometimes seems a little excessive, but it is very effective. Americans often get their first job while still in college.”, confirms David.

hyperactive student associations

“There are clubs for everything”, guarantees David. Students are grouped by geographic origin or by interest centers (cinema, humanitarian, sports, etc.). The associations organize parties, events… So overcome shyness and join one of them, it’s the best way to build a social life.

“On-campus” or “off-campus” accommodation?

David recommends living in a student residence on campus. “There you can find everything you need and it’s a unique experience,” he says. However, this formula is not suitable for everyone. The campus is a (great) microcosm of young people that operates with its own codes, a little outside the “real world”.

If you also want to discover American culture in everyday life, you can opt for a shared accommodation. In the United States, the search for housing usually occurs through classified ads. “There are also ‘social lists’, types of intranets specific to the campuses, where students exchange tips, and sometimes offers of accommodation”, testifies David.

To discover in Éditions de l’Etudiant:
“Going to study abroad”,
by Sophie Collet.

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