School System Differences

Bonne journée students! I do hope you’ve been able to keep up with you schoolwork considering all of the snow days I’ve been hearing about! Just think of the French students that are spending their semester at UM-Flint! I’m sure they’re very shocked at our weather (as I think everyone is this winter). I hope you are all staying warm!


While we are talking about the weather, I will take this opportunity to tell you all about the current weather here in Poitiers. It has been mostly in the 40s, but has  gotten into the 50s on a few occasions. It rains here quite often, so an umbrella is at the top of the list with (1) keys and (2) phone; the things you never leave home without. This type of weather is nothing compared to what you are all suffering through right now, however is does sometimes make it difficult to enjoy trips (such as the beach at La Rochelle). You really have to take the rain out of the equation, and just remember that you’re in Europe! That usually makes everything better!

Grading System

I’ve heard some of you are comparing the educational systems of the US and France/Europe. I would love to share with you what I know of the systems so far. Hopefully this will allow you to get a better idea of what a difference the two countries really have on the grading scale.

The grading scale in the classroom is much different than that of the US. It is based on a 20 point scale, and at France Business School, 9 pts is the pass mark (in Michigan it’s closer to 12 pts).  In the US (for the most part), 90%-100% is an A-/A/A+. 80%-90% is a B-/B/B+, and so on and so forth. Which means that in a class of 30, the grades could be scattered all across the board. Each student is responsible for earning their own grade and can work hard towards and A, or slack off and not receive as good of a mark. In France however, the class competes against one another for the grades. which means there will only be a certain number of A’s, B’s, etc.

Grading scale

This means that for as many A’s, there are just as many people failing. For someone like me, this is very worry-some. I am a very prestigious student, so knowing that I would be competing for my grade, rather than simply earning it, was very hard to wrap my head around. I received many scholarships last year because of my grades, so it is very important that I keep up my GPA. To think, I could earn a 95% in the class, and still end up with a C! However, because I am an exchange student, the credits I receive will just be transferring and there will be no impact on my GPA (think of it as a pass/fail course). This is still no excuse to slack off and barely get by, but it’s good to know for the future!

Class Schedule

One of my many concerns about studying abroad was what my schedule would be and how much time I would have to spend with my family who would be visiting, traveling, going out with friends, etc. In the US, you really have to plan out your schedule because there is a lot of work outside of the classroom (even though you are in the classroom all day!). I would say in college, you are in the classroom for 4-6 hours/week (minimum), and then have an additional 5-15 hours (minimum) of homework/studying outside the classroom as well.

Luckily, the staff here at France Business School are very compassionate with international students who wish to experience their life in Europe and not be completely consumed with school work. The schedule is actually quite light (of course this is my personal opinion). If you haven’t already read the main page’s publishment from last week, allow me to explain… I was obliged to sign up for five classes while abroad. Each of those classes consists of 4-5 days inside the classroom. It is a lecture based class with a group presentation, and exam on the last day. Class hours are normally 9:30-12:15 (break for lunch), then 2:15-5:00. Also, these classes are spread out over several weeks. You may have class Thursday and Friday, and then have two or three weeks off before finishing the class. This is not what we are used to in the states! Having a TWO hour lunch is a luxury in itself! Also, knowing how much free time I have allows me to plan trips, activities, etc. I’ve attached a snapshot of my calendar below. Green are the days I have class. Hopefully this will give you an idea of the kind of ‘free’ time I have. You can now look under the Calendar tab for more accurate and up to date information regarding my schedule!

As you can see, I only have 1 exam to take in all of May!

In addition to the 20 days of class I have from now until May 31st, I also have to attend French class. These classes are held Monday/Wednesday nights from 5:30pm-7:00pm. I have noted these days with a Red “X”. I will have to attend 18 of these classes while I am here, and will take a final examination on May 19th (listed in green). (I have emailed Ms. Daniels-Carlson an enlarged copy of this calendar if it is difficult to read.)

Upon departing in May, my credits will be transferred to UM-Flint and applied to my transcript. I will not only earn credits towards my Marketing degree, but I will also leave France with an Advanced Certificate in International Marketing from France Business School. This will most definitely benefit my worth as an individual to a prospective employer in the future.

I hope this gives all of you a better idea of how the educational system works at France Business School. Although it may seem very laid back, when we work, we work hard! The saying “work hard, play hard” definitely holds true here. Classes are very competitive and you should know everything in the lectures and hand-outs for the exams (even if you didn’t go over the hand-outs in class).

Looking forward to hearing more questions about what life is like in France/Europe. I hope this project helps you understand life in Europe and inspires you to find out for yourself if everything I’m saying is correct! Although I’ve only been here for a month, this experience has already been the best of my life! I encourage you all to study abroad and am here for any questions/concerns along the way!

À bientôt!


2 thoughts on “School System Differences

  1. Are you able to communicate with your instructors or do they speak English? What are some words you have learned?

    • France business school is an international school so all classes are taught in English. Most of the professors are not actually even from France. There are many from the UK, and even a few from the states! In my French class I am in a beginner class, the instructor does speak good English. I have been taking French and using it the entire time I’ve been here so I do know quite a few phrases. I can get through a normal day ordering food, or paying for my groceries. I still have trouble with certain things, but I’m getting much better!

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