Skip to content

They took a gap year after their baccalaureate and do not regret

Posted Feb 11 2022 at 06:44 PMUpdated on May 31, 2022 at 10:39

A preparation? A DUT? A college license? In the final year, Mathilde was a bit lost. She projects herself in the trade sector, but does not know which course to turn to. “Not really a good student”the one who struggles in English decides to leave school for a year once she has her baccalaureate, in 2014. As her classmates begin their studies, she flies to Melbourne, Australia. “I knew that in business, English was essential and that I really had to progress”, says the Rouennaise. There, she is an au pair in a family. She is in charge of taking the two children to and from school, “babying” them and making meals from time to time.

Back in France after seven months in immersion, she is fluent in the language of Shakespeare. She then integrates a DUT marketing techniques alternately, and continues with an L3 and the IAE of Lille. “If I had to do it again, I would do exactly the same, she enthuses, now a digital marketing manager in an SME. This experience served me, made me grow. And being fluent in English helps me at work. »

Request a gap year on Parcoursup

How many, like her, take a gap year between the baccalaureate and the start of studies? Hard to know. Contacted, the Ministry of Higher Education says it does not have any figures on this subject. “Culturally, it is not at all developed in France”observes Nicolas Charles, lecturer in sociology at the University of Bordeaux.

But things are slowly changing. Since 2018, the year in which Parcoursup replaced Admission Post-Bac (APB), high school students can request a gap year on the orientation platform, which has a dedicated tab. The advantage: if their gap year is accepted by the establishment to which they are applying, they can leave with peace of mind, knowing that they will join the desired course at the start of the next academic year.

To do this, students apply for different courses in a classic way. Once they accept a proposal from an institution where they applied (which is unaware of their desire to leave), they submit their request for a gap year. This takes the form of a letter of motivation, indicating the objectives and methods of achievement. “It must in particular show the interest that the gap period could represent in the context of the training that the candidate will join at the end of it”, indicates the ministry on its site. The request is studied by an establishment committee, “who assesses the quality and consistency of the project”. If the candidate obtains the green light from the establishment, he pays reduced tuition fees and receives a student card.

More or less favorable sectors

Are higher education establishments in favor of it? According to Bruno Magliulo, specialist in orientation questions, it depends on the sectors. “In the tertiary sector, the courses are rather open to it, notes this former academy inspector. On the other hand, the more scientific sectors, for example the preparatory courses, are less fond of it. They tell themselves that the students will be less efficient after a year off than when they leave the baccalaureate, where their knowledge is still fresh. »

Achilles can testify to this. The young man, who skipped two classes, left for Indonesia for a year after his baccalaureate, obtained in 2013. A departure as part of a Rotary program, which allows him to spend a school year abroad by staying in families. He spent a few months in a class where lessons were taught in Indonesian, then in a university where students learned French.

On his return, only a preparatory class accepts his application. “The others told me that they did not trust my level, especially in maths, after a year of absence”, he recalls. But after revising during the summer, he continued his preparatory schooling without more difficulty than his classmates. Then, he joined Grenoble School of Management, before becoming a private banker.

“I have always highlighted this year abroad during interviews, both to integrate a course, find an internship or look for a job, because I believe that it has been very beneficial to me. It allowed me to gain in maturity, to be more autonomous, to work more easily in a group because I was alone and had to collaborate with other students. » And for him, his interlocutors understood what this experience had brought him.

Brakes in France

In view of the knowledge and skills that can be accumulated by taking a parenthesis, one may wonder why high school students are not more encouraged to take a year off after their baccalaureate. Especially since there are many possibilities: new baccalaureate holders can do civic service, work, volunteer in an association, do an internship (agreed upon by the establishment that accepted them on Parcoursup for example), go to the stranger…

For Vincent Troger, honorary lecturer in education sciences at the University of Nantes, there is a reason for this. “In France, we are prisoners of a linear vision of schooling, which responds to organizational and budgetary issues”, he assures. Clearly, the directors of higher education establishments and the ministries need to anticipate, and this is easier to do when we know that so many students will enroll at the start of the new school year in such and such a year, rather than when a good party is absent for a year or even longer.

In other countries, however, a gap year after the equivalent of the baccalaureate is common. Nicolas Charles cites the case of Sweden. “Over there, it’s common to give yourself time to think about what you want to do later. And we do not ask young people to justify the interest of their project if they decide to leave for a year traveling by bike, for example! » A vision distant from that of France, “country where there is a kind of obsession for professional integration”. “In France, we have a very academic vision according to which we should be efficient as soon as possible. In short, to have your master’s degree at 23 and find a job. »

Gap years by default

Among those who agree a year off, there are those who dreamed of this project, and the others, who chose it rather by default. Especially because“they did not get the wish they wanted on Parcoursup”, observes Bruno Magliulo, author of “Parcoursup: 50 questions to ask yourself before choosing your orientation” (L’Etudiant collection, published in 2022). Or because the health crisis has turned their plans upside down. Example with Inès (name has been changed), 19 years old. She wanted to enter a post-baccalaureate business school after her final year, in 2020. But there was no question of her paying high tuition fees to stay behind a screen with only distance learning courses. “The purpose of the business school, beyond teaching, is to take part in activities in associations, to meet people to create a network, she advances. Remotely, this is not possible. »

Hence his decision to postpone his return for a year. During this year off, the Francilienne worked for four months in a pharmacy to make some money and add a line to her CV. She took advantage of her free time to take stock of her professional desires, and finally asked on Parcoursup to join a Bachelor’s degree at Paris School of Business – an establishment where the first year costs 8,900 euros. His request was accepted, and Inès returned there last September. “I don’t regret my choice when I see all the distance learning courses that students had in 2020! » she slips.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.