Bonjour! Long time no see! 

 I have been crazy busy here in Paris with school and everything, and things got even more out of control during Nervous November. 

So, in honor of Nervous November, today I will compare UCLA and Sciences Po Schools. 

  1. Quarter/Semester length

It is 12 weeks long instruction + 1 week break in the middle + 1 week off before finals week + 1 week of finals exam. 

Fall Schedule Provided by UCEAP

  1. Number of Classes

At UCLA, we usually take 12-19 units for a full time, which is about 3-4 classes. Here at Sciences Po, we take 5 classes as undergraduate exchange students, with 1 of them being a French language class. Through UCEAP, we can take up to 2 courses as pass or no pass. Unlike most classes at UCLA, we do not meet twice a week. Each class is 2 hours a week and meet only once a week. 

Screenshot of a Schedule at Sciences Po

  1. Absence Policy

Because so, attendance is of tremendous importance at Sciences Po, and, in fact, a 3rd absence in a class is considered an automatic fail. An email is sent out as a warning after a second absence, and if the student ignores the warning and takes the third absence, the transcript will be marked with “delinquency” as reason of failure. 

Repeated tardiness is too considered as an absence, depending on professors. French politeness is very punctual, and you are considered late if you are not there at the minute the class is supposed to start. Three tardies are generally counted as one absence. Of course, there are professors who do not care about tardiness at all as well, but don’t count your luck. 

  1. Class Grading Scale

We are so used to letters and percentage scales, and we are conditioned to strive for perfectness. Well, not in France. The grading scale is out of 20, and 20 is reserved only for God, they say. 17 out of 20 may only be 85% for us, but it’s of the highest grade you can possibly get from a professor. Even that 17 is rare, and 16 should be considered as amazing. General rule is that 13 is about borderline A-. US I think we mark our points off. Here in France, they add up the point and you have to earn every point. 

Yup, don’t get frustrated with 17.

  1. Exams / Projects

I think at UCLA we are very used getting tested for your grades. Papers are often used too. However, at Sciences Po, the emphasis is placed on group projects and presentations. Almost every single class has a form of group project, whether it be a presentation or a project. Sometimes the groups are of your choice, but most likely they are assigned. What you have choice over, however, is the date of your presentation, depending on classes again. Nervous November is usually dominated by endless projects and presentations. So the key is to best manage your schedule during the first week of school so that no one week is of much hell to you. It involves a bit of competition and fighting, but I tell you, the victory is sweet and definitely pays off in November.

Title Page of my group presentation with 6 people

  1. Participation

Participation is generally a grading criterion at UCLA as well, but here at Sciences Po, it is emphasized even more so. Of course, not all classes are, especially if they are of big size. However, the smaller classes generally expect their students to be actively participating in discussions. Classes have less of reading and workloads than compared to UCLA, but students are expected to have attentively gone through the materials by the time of class.

Screenshot of one of my syllabuses regarding grading system

I have managed to work my schedule to my favor, and I have a very relaxed schedule when compared to many other exchange students. I wish the same for all you who may come study abroad at Sciences Po, that your November be peaceful. 

Good bye and happy Thanksgiving! 

Eileen Kim studied abroad in Paris, France in 2017: