Tag Archives: pros and cons

The Pros and Cons of Sciences Po (PSIA)

Having just completed my first semester as a master’s student in International Development, I thought I’d share some thoughts about the reality of this highly prestigious French school. What are the pros and cons of Sciences Po?

My favorite thing about Sciences PO? The hands-on and practical classes.
My least favorite thing? Too much time spent in the underground metro.
Academic Life

Pros: lots of student organizations, lots of hands-on and practical classes, classes in both French and English, extremely international and multilingual student body, students are sometimes better informed than teachers (which leads to great class discussions), some professors take the class to bars/restaurants at the end of the year, and there is a huge emphasis on bringing professionals into the classroom as guest speakers and potential connections for internships

Cons: little time for student organizations, little time to go out with peers, you can only skip two classes per course per semester, and some professors have top-down lecture approaches combined with monotonous voices

Thinking about applying to Sciences Po?
I can review your letter of motivation!

 

Transport

Probably the worst part about life in Paris is that the city is huge. Since Sciences Po is in the 7th arrondissement (the city center) and apartments there are very expensive, most students have around a 30 minute commute to school.
This means that it is important to schedule classes wisely so as to not spend hours of dead time in the city, unable to go home between classes because the commute makes it not worth it.
Personally, my commute is nearly 1 hour. In exchange, I have a nice house with a garden and an affordable rent. I have spend hours trying to figure out if I can get a scooter or motorcycle to reduce the time I spend underground on the metro, but so far I haven’t been able to confirm that I can legally drive a scooter in France.

Costs

Living costs in Paris are high. I recently saw an article claiming that Paris is the second most expensive city to live in. If you can find an apartment in Paris nearby the school, expect is to be very expensive (think 1000€/month for rent). Most students are spread out across the city and pay around 500€-750€ per month. The good news is that many student also get the CAF (French governmental aid for housing), which can reimburse something like 100€-250€ per month, depending.

Sciences Po will help you to set up a bank account, but it often take a long time for the paperwork to go through to get your card (and thus access money, get a phone plan, etc.) Here are my sarcastic thoughts on that from earlier in the year.

Tuition fees are quite high at Sciences Po (13,700€ per year for my first year as a master’s student) and I understand that they are going up for next year. French students benefit from aid based on their families’ incomes, but international students are often expected to pay in full. American students have the benefit of being able to apply for US student loans using FAFSA. Otherwise, some students receive Emilie Boutmy scholarships from Sciences Po.

The pros of these costs? Nearly all the computers in the library are Macs. The school gives you 15€ of credit for printing at the beginning of the year (hurray! 0.1% of tuition back!)

Thinking about applying to Sciences Po?
I can review your letter of motivation!

I’ve also written posts with some free tips on writing your motivation letter. And this post, which answers some questions sent to me from a Sciences Po applicant. You can learn more about my experience applying for Sciences Po’s Emile Boutmy Scholarship.

You can also leave me a question in the comments.