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Transfer or start in freshman year as an international student ?

AsparanAsparan 2 replies1 threads New Member
edited July 13 in College Admissions
Hi everyone,

I would like to apply to some US universities as an international undergraduate student, but I'm in a particular situation. I'm French and in my country we have a special system : we usually don't go to college right after high school. In fact, we have to attend a "preparatory class" (duration = 2 years), then pass a competitive entrance examination in order to finally get into our "college" (duration = 4 years).

I just finished my two year preparatory class one month ago (I'm 20 years old), and the problem is that I don't know if I'm eligible to transfer given the fact that I have never attended what the US universities could call a "college".

So my questions are :
- is it better to begin the first year of my "new college" and apply to transfer during that year ? (That would be my first year of french college, but my third year of higher eduction, so I don't know how US colleges would consider that...).
- or is it better to try to apply as a normal international student, to start in freshman year (but that means that I would have done three "useless" years of french higher education, with no diploma granted).

Thank you !

PS : I have no visa issues because I am a US citizen, I was born in the US (but I have never lived more than 3 months in this country).
edited July 13
6 replies
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Replies to: Transfer or start in freshman year as an international student ?

  • AsparanAsparan 2 replies1 threads New Member
    edited July 13
    Some additional information :
    - I also got a French scientific baccalaureate in 2018 with "Mention Très Bien" (Highest honours).
    - During my two-year "prépa/préparatory class", I also validated, in addition, two years of STEM degree in a french university (Sorbonne, in Paris ; all the European credits are validated (120 ECTS) ; With "Mention Très bien"/Highest honours).

    So I'm wondering what the best way to apply for US universities would be :
    - go to the first year of my french college and try to transfer ?
    - try to apply for freshman year ?
    - I also heard about "advanced standing", would I be eligible ?
    - Or is it too late to try to go to the undergraduate level (I have already done 2 years of french higher education) ?

    Thank you.
    edited July 13
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  • skieuropeskieurope 41014 replies7678 threads Super Moderator
    Paging @MYOS1634
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  • MYOS1634MYOS1634 43275 replies471 threads Senior Member
    Because you validated 120 ECTS, you MUST apply as a transfer student. However if you enroll in your college and get credit, you'll have too many ECTS's to transfer to many universities. Therefore I'd strongly recommend you take a gap year to apply to US colleges (if you don't need financial aid you could apply for the Spring semester.)

    Note however that McGill considers that Prépa students must apply for Year 1 NOT year 2 or year 3, and as a French dual citizen you'd pay Canadian tuition, not international tuition.

    An additional issue is that the prépa grade very idiosyncratically, so that the typical French scale isn't really valid, which would make your evaluation especially difficult (most US universities wouldn't understand the concept of "negative marks" for instance).

    Since you've never lived more than 3 months in the US, I assume your parents live in France and therefore that you are not the resident of any state for tuition purpose. Check with them (they'd have to have a house and a registered card and be registered to vote somewhere, typically).

    What's your budget?
    As a transfer, you'd only qualify for a loan -- the best merit aid is for freshmen and often unavailable to transfers, or, when it is, is a fraction of what freshmen can get.

    What do you want to major in?
    Have you started looking into US universities?
    You'd need 2 safeties (automatic admission for your stats or high acceptance rate), ~5 matches (usually for strong applicants it means an acceptance rate 35-55%), and a few reaches (anything below 35%). You'll need to be careful about the safeties and matches because as a transfer your situation is highly unpredictable.

    BTW you'd apply as an internationally-educated US citizen, NOT as an international student (= who needs a visa).
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  • AsparanAsparan 2 replies1 threads New Member
    edited July 13
    Thanks for your answer !

    - What I can do is repeat the 2nd year of prépa (that's a common thing in France), which would give me the time to apply. When we do a third year of prepa, we are not granted any ECTS (so I would stay with my 120 ECTS one more year). That would count as a gap year.

    - My parents are French, I'm the only American. They don't have anything in the US, not even a holiday house. Excluding my nationality, they have no connection with the country.

    - The budget of my parents is quite "limited". I don't really think they would be willing to pay 40k a year for 3 years (even if they can do it) while I have already done the two years of prépa. And I understand that...

    Maybe I should have thought about it 1 or 2 years before. Studying and working in the US is my dream. But the universities are very expensive, especially with no financial aid if I'm a transfer student.

    If I keep studying in France, that would be : 2 years (or 3 !) of prépa + 4 years of french college (including 1 mandatory gap year) + maybe 1 or 2 years of master in the USA... which represents AT LEAST 7 (expensive) years of higher education in order to go to work to the US (VS 4 years of US bachelor after highschool with a lot of financial aids, or 5 ears if I had done 1 year of prepa and 4 year of bachelor).
    That would have been so much better if I had applied for US colleges right out of highschool or after one year of prepa but I didn't...
    And if I go to my french college, I'm not even sure to be able to make an academic exchange year in the US, given the fact that the current Covid-19 crisis will likely affect badly these types of programs during the next few years...

    So I think I'm gonna wait for the results of the prepa (in 1 month) : if I have a good French school, I will stay (even if I'm not fully happy with that) and try to make a lot of international academic exchanges (if I can... because of covid 19) and a international dual degree... If I don't have a good school, I will make a third year of prepa to try to have a best school and/or to try to transfer and I will see !

    ---

    By the way, I had not thought about Canada ! I'm gonna look, that would be a good alternative, less pricy than US colleges, and I believe it is quite well considered in the US (at least better known than French schools).
    But I think it's too late now for Mcgill, I would have to wait/loose another year. Maybe there is January admission ... ?

    Thanks !
    edited July 13
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  • happymomof1happymomof1 30834 replies198 threads Senior Member
    You also can run your questions by the EducationUSA advising center counselors at Fulbright Paris. They surely have seen your situation before. https://educationusa.state.gov/centers/fulbright-paris

    You aren't an international applicant. You are a US applicant who has been educated abroad. You are entitled to federal financial aid (loans and possibly some grant money) that you qualify for by filing the FAFSA. You will need your parents' income information for that. It will probably be easier for you to do it on paper the first time, because of the steps needed to get your parent who signs the FAFSA with you a PIN.
    So go to the Financial Aid forum and ask there for advice specific to your situation.

    Yes, the best financial aid goes to freshman applicants, but many places do have some merit-based and/or need-based aid beyond the federal aid limits for transfer applicants. Again, that is something you might want to ask about in the Transfer forum and in the Financial Aid forum.

    What is your best option depends on your specific educational and career goals. If you have friends or family in the US who can help you get started, moving here and working while you study part-time can make sense. Choosing a state to move to now where you can qualify for in-state residence independently of your parents can make sense. Waiting until you have completed your university studies in France, then coming here for graduate school can make sense. Only you can determine which option is the best one for you.
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  • DadTwoGirlsDadTwoGirls 6642 replies2 threads Senior Member
    edited July 13
    "The budget of my parents is quite "limited". I don't really think they would be willing to pay 40k a year for 3 years"

    If you have a limited budget, then you are probably going to be better off in the Province of Quebec. Assuming that you are either a citizen or permanent resident of France, you would pay as a Canadian at any university in Quebec. McGill is the obvious choice. You would be paying a lot less than US$40,000 per year, probably about half of this, and it probably would take you three years (not four -- at McGill students coming from US high schools or Canadian high schools outside of Quebec start in U0, it sounds like you should at least go into U1). McGill is far better known in the US compared to other universities in Quebec. Be aware that the prices will be listed in Canadian dollars, which is quite a bit below the US dollar right now.

    Concordia (just up the street from McGill), the Universite de Montreal, and the Universite de Quebec a Montreal (UQAM) would also be worth considering. The latter two teach in French.

    The universities in Quebec would all be very familiar with the French education system. Admissions staff there should be able to give you good advice, including verifying how much credit you a likely to get from the courses that you have taken in France.

    If you are one of the very strongest students in your current school, then you could also consider some of the top ranked US schools that have good need based financial aid. In this case, you would want to run the "net price calculator" for a few of the top US schools and see whether what the NPC predicts as your likely costs are compatible with what your parents are able to pay.
    edited July 13
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