A life-changing opportunity for U.S. community college students.
On May 13, 2014, the US Department of State and the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs launched the “Transatlantic Friendship and Mobility Initiative,” declaring the common goal of the United States and France to increase and diversify student mobility.
As part of this initiative, the French Embassy is committed to reaching out to new audiences and offering life-changing opportunities to American students currently underrepresented in study abroad programs. Community college students—often first-generation college students—represent almost half the student population in the United States. However, because of limited financial means, time and lesser international exposure, most are not able to take part in traditional study abroad programs as only 2% of undergraduate students who currently study abroad are community college students.
To address this disparity, the French Embassy, along with its American partner Community Colleges for International Development, launched a pilot program for community college students to study abroad in France, with the support of the 50 top engineering schools network in France (N+I network: http://www.nplusi.com/).
The Community College in France Program seeks to identify promising students from underrepresented groups —who will then become “Ambassadors of France”— and offer them transformative educational experiences that promote the sharing of knowledge and know-how between France and the US.
This customized study abroad program for community college students comprises two components:
Bootcamps – summer immersion programs
14-day immersive summer programs offer promising community college students a combination of scientific conferences and on-site corporate visits on a given topic, as well as cultural visits. In 2019, 65 hand-selected high-achieving students will get a “taste of France” by being exposed to its culture, innovative business climate, and world-class education system in 4 different bootcamps. Participating students will also meet with their peers to learn more about the French higher education system and explore the possibility of pursuing further studies in France.
In 2017 and 2018, we have been working with 15 Community Colleges to send a total of 32 students and 3 advisors from across the US to Paris. The program, focusing on engineering and environmental science, was a resounding success. The objective was to give students an overview of the city’s sustainable development initiatives, while also shedding light on professional opportunities and introducing them to French culture and engineering studies in France.
The students, several of whom had never traveled abroad, described the program as a life-changing experience:
“Community College in France” has provided me one of the nicest chapters in my journey of academic life. I not only got deeply attached to a new place, a rich culture, and gained scientific knowledge from scientific site visits; but also, this 10-day program gave me the opportunity to develop myself more as an engineering student and an individual living in global age. Paris’s commitment and dedication to developing environmentally friendly tools and also their ability to let us confidently dream about a greener world has encouraged me like nothing else could do.”
Ayesha Khatun, LaGuardia Community College
“Seeing an approach to education that invests in the future through education without burdening the students of the present seemed closer to perfection than I thought could be real. Integrating students into business from the beginning of their education was another thing I felt the entire world, not just the U.S., could learn from”.
Matthew Stromberg, Norwalk Community College
Get a graduate degree and professional experience in France.
Offering graduate studies abroad, this unique four-year degree-granting program in France is open to a small group of hand-selected students, following the completion of their two-year Associate degree with honors at a U.S. Community College. The selected students are offered the opportunity to complete a Diplôme d’ingénieur (Engineering Degree) within four years of graduating from a community college.
Students begin the program with a pre-Diplôme d’ingénieur, a preparatory year in France, which allows them to become acquainted with new methods of study and to strengthen their French language skills. This is followed by a three-year work-study Diplôme d’ingénieur at one of the 50 top engineering schools of the n+i network.
The program is designed to offer students professional training while enabling them to self-finance their degree. Students attend classes part-time while completing a paid part-time internship.
At the end of the four-year program, if they pass all the requirements, the students will be awarded the French title of Engineer, which is recognized as a Master in Engineering in the US, according to the 2013 bilateral agreement with the US agency for international degree recognition, AACRAO.
Within this framework, the French Embassy offers a scholarship to one top student to finance the pre-Diplôme d’ingénieur year in France. This year, the laureate is Daniela Markovic from the honors college at Lonestar College in Houston Texas. She started in July 2017.
Our American partners, including community colleges and associations of higher education, were impressed by the exceptional commitment shown by France toward community college students and have indicated a strong interest in continuing and expanding the program. The program also received very positive feedback from the press:
Join us to support life-changing study-abroad experiences for community college students!
Community colleges typically welcome the most diverse student body in terms of socioeconomic background and ethnicity, but also in terms of age range as some community college students attend just after highschool while others are returning students. Community college students are often excellent and highly motivated, with honors programs to help prepare them to become a competitive work force or transfer to institutions where they may pursue four-year degrees.
Community college students are however the most underrepresented in study abroad opportunities. Community College in France is a groundbreaking program supporting diversity in student mobility between France and the US and seeking to support promising students and offer them transformative educational experiences that promote the sharing of knowledge and know-how between France and the US.