The French Higher Education System Explained

There are many expats from other countries who move to France with the hope of getting their higher education from a French establishment.

But for any Americans considering the process, you may want to buckle up. Because college in France is a far cry from the American Pie party palooza all your cool older friends tricked you into thinking American college was.


Higher education in France has two different tracks, both of which adhere to a rigid class code cemented over the last century. And unlike changing majors in an American school, once you’re on one track, you can’t switch lanes without starting over. The student population who attend public université are typically diverse, because these public institutions are extremely affordable and don’t really have a strict selection process to get in (at least relative to the United States). But those who go to Grandes Écoles (think the Ivies) typically come from wealthier families and spend years slaving away at prépa just to be offered a spot in the running!

Not Even French gives you the full rundown in this video, which will make you happy you decided to get your B.A. in Underwater Basket Weaving in the good ol’ USA.