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Trinity College Cambridge or Lycee Louis le Grand

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    I have an offer for math and physics at Trinity. Since my STEP offer is 1,1 I do expect to meet it. I will likely have the other option of attending Lycee Louis le Grand in Paris for "classes preparatoires", which is the 2 year program after high school to prepare for admission to the "grandes ecoles" like Ecole Normale Superieure and Polytechnique. It is more or less the same material in math and physics as the first two years of the Tripos, possibly even a little more in depth. The workload at French "prepas" like LLG are among the highest in the world (40 hours per week). Louis le Grand is also recognized as the best of the "prepas" in France.

    Neither of the schools are in my home country (USA), but school in France is completely free, and Cambridge is $48,000 per year, an obviously massive sum.

    I also don't expect too many people here to have familiarity with the French system, and you are probably biased towards British universities anyways being British. But, if by chance you know about the French system, could you give me some advice on where to go?

    Some more information:

    -Ultimate goal is to get a PhD in theoretical physics from a top American university

    -I know French well enough to understand math and physics in French, and have a fluent understanding of spoken French, but I'm not yet fluent at speaking myself. Although I can definitely hold a conversation speaking slowly. This is not a major problem as I will learn French rather quickly after 2 or three months there.

    -I have family in Paris in the same neighborhood as Louis le Grand.

    -I want to get the best education in math/physics possible at the undergraduate level

    Tagging alcibiade !

    Have you checked the international eligibility for the Ecole Normale and Polytechnique? Some of the fanciest French schools strictly limit admissions based on nationality, or so I hear. As you have family in France, I would assume you are a dual national, but make sure you know about restrictions before you decide.

    Prepa in France is indeed at a very high level and, to put it mildly, it is extremely competitive, particularly for the fanciest schools. While some of the credits can be transferred like AP courses in an applic to an American uni, keep in mind that Prepa is essentially seen as pre-university, though of course the Grandes Ecoles are a parallel system of sorts. If you don't get into one of the better schools in France, you will have essentially wasted your time (some stay in them more than 2 years and take the exams over and over) in terms of institutional credits - it is all for passing the entrance exams, much less for learning per se. Based on test scores as they are, Grandes Ecoles can be as hard to get into as any of the world's top unis. They certainly would match in quality, but Grandes Ecoles might also lock you into career options more French than global.

    If you got an offer at Trinity, you must be a very strong candidate. With overseas student rates, it would be about as expensive as a top US uni. So why would you go to Trinity rather than one of the best American ones? That being asked, I do think Cam offers an absolutely first-rate education and would not limit your options as those in the French system would. At Trinity, you would also be starting directly in undergrad, which in prepa you wouldn't. I am also very skeptical that you would get anything in prepa like the educational experience you would at Cam: you might do the same maths, but you would not get the discussion with peers and contact with world-class profs.

    I hope this helps.

    (Original post by alcibiade)
    I hope this helps.
    Thanks for that. So how long does it take to get a bachelors degree via a prepa + grande ecole? Is it 2 + 2? And masters would be 2 + 2 + 2?

    Versus the Trinity route of 3 (BA) or 4 (BA & MMath).

    Posted from TSR Mobile

    (Original post by jneill)
    Thanks for that. So how long does it take to get a bachelors degree via a prepas + grande ecole? Is it 2 + 2? And masters would be 2 + 2 + 2?

    Versus the Trinity route of 3 (BA) or 4 (MMath).

    Posted from TSR Mobile
    It depends on the course. Sci-po, which I did as a rough equivalent to a MA, was 2 years, but I had a BA so did no prepa. Others are 3 or 4, post-prepa.

    If cost is a concern, I think the OP would do better to seek a scholarship in the US. That might consign him to a second-tier school, but it would still be better than the prepa route, unless, of course, gets into a grande ecole rather than a FAC. But the options for physics are very meagre outside of the FAC - unless he thinks engineering was OK.
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