“Look around you. It is very likely that those French students among you will go onto l’École Nationale d’Administration. They will be the future leaders of France.” At Sciences Po, we hear this on a regular basis. Sciences Po is one of the most elite private universities in Paris, similar in prestige to the Ivy Leagues (or Northwestern… but I’m absolutely NOT biased in saying this…). While we Americans complain about the injustices in our college admissions system, French students in high school study for
one full year
that can be taken only
that determines the fate of their lives. Sciences Po only accepts a handful of the top-scorers. That’s it.
So, studying at Sciences Po, professors tell us: your in-class essays must have titled topics and sub-topics, you may only use pen, if you make a mistake, you must white it out, etc. These rules seem strange to us, but they are in place to help perfect the future politicians of l’État—the State. Now, these professors have been partnered with NU for years, so they know we are not like French students. Apparently, the stereotype in France is that American students are extremely vocal and ask great questions (faculty are a bit bummed when they discover this is not always the case…).
Nevertheless, I am in awe of the quality of teaching here. These professors can lecture for four hours straight on a topic, in-depth, without even looking at a single note! Granted, since there are no four-hour lectures at Northwestern, there’s no proof that Northwestern professors couldn’t do the same. But I’m very thankful for my 50-minute lectures (NU administrators, if you’re reading this, please don’t consider changing this glorious aspect of our university).
Overall, I’m impressed with how much vast information these courses—in French, history, and public health—have all taught in such a short period of time. Who knows, maybe by December I’ll be fluent in French, rattling off important dates in EU history during daily conversation, and advising the French government on their healthcare system! (Or maybe not…)