Parcoursup, a GPS post-ferry orientation not so easy to handle


These words, the under-20s may not know them. But like Francis Cabrel sang in a 1981 title, bachelors who do not yet have a post in higher education for the fall of 2019 seek to take “their place in the traffic” … And this before the Parcoursup site , whose complementary phase opened on June 25, will close on September 11th.

This countdown is an opportunity to review the philosophy underlying this platform of assignment in universities, schools and preparatory classes, launched in 2018 with the promise of better support for young people in their choices.

semantic (words) and semiotic (signs) analysis indicates that it borrows many codes from the automotive GPS universe. Without succeeding in adopting the intuitive system of orientation.

New repository

For the last two years, the platform has had to orient a little more than 600 000 high school graduates each year to more than 14 000 courses . No wonder there are some traffic jams on the back roads. Yet the new system was precisely put in place to avoid slowdowns.

The former Admission Post-Bac platform, known as the APB, was replaced by Parcoursup on January 15, 2018, following the “Plan Étudiants” and the ORE law of March 8, 2018 . The first letter of this law stresses from the outset that the post-bac orientation is a major challenge for the Ministry of Higher Education, Research and Innovation.

However, to change course, it also needed a change of codes. Following the paths traced by Algirdas Julien Greimas and Roland Barthes , let us decipher the evolutions of visual symbols operated from APB to Parcoursup, to understand what is behind this notion of “course” .

Choice process

The former name emphasized admission, an administrative step that formalized registration at an institution. The word “ferry” was still there. The new name replaces the process at the stage point.

Lined with the mention “Enter the higher education”, the new signature invites to the movement. The wording “post bac” was included in a blue phylactery, like the bubble of a comic strip. Or more likely in the minds of young graduates like SMS received! It was graphically referring to a set of questions and answers.

While the APB logotype evoked dialogue, Parcoursup’s logo adopts a typography more readable and less anxiety-provoking. The tiny case is more consistent with the environment of electronic writing in vogue on all the graphic world of the web . The lower case is both the default writing on a keyboard, more natural and informal, while the capital letter sometimes evokes urgency, even danger.

The Parcoursup logotype is two-thirds of a cold, serious color. In contrast, a hot color comes to slice the letter “s” in the heart of the word. The orange-red reminds the importance of the issue, draws attention. The two-color “s” is a chromatic transition letter. Its shape alone evokes a winding path. And finally its double color allows the “up” status apart. “Up” also means “up” in English. Is it quietly inviting to a transition to the English language?

The alternation of colors, found in the three small arrows, announces a stepwise process. You can also see three steps, a gradual climb to higher education. A ternary rhythm modeled on the first part of the European reform known as LMD (license, bac +3, master, bac +5, doctorate, bac +8).

Fuzzy navigation criteria

Usually, on a car GPS, it is necessary to indicate five important variables to allow him to optimize a course: a place of departure, a place of arrival, dates, personal preferences of way, economic rules.

Ironically, the same questions may arise for Parcoursup’s candidate to optimize his path to higher education. But we must recognize that it is a difficult GPS to use:

  • A starting place that looks like a finish line  : Few bachelors realize that they are at the dawn of a new episode. The baccalaureate was not an end in itself . It’s a “passport”, but to what unknown country?
  • A place of arrival difficult to indicate  : Few graduates already know how to express a professional choice.
  • Dates that require keeping pace  : If some graduates would be tempted by a gap year after the end, most do not dare to miss the traditional return to September. And the Parcoursup procedure is framed at the national level.
  • Preferences that require reflection  : A GPS generally allows to indicate if one privileges the speed, the cost of the displacement, the distance covered, or the passage by certain stages … On Parcoursup, it is not possible to filter the answers according to personal learning preferences – face-to-face courses, online courses, practical work … Faced with these questions, many graduates remain perplexed. Some still talk about the subjects they liked in high school. Few people know each other well, and identify the learning styles that correspond to them.
  • Economic rules … taboo in the education sector  : An economic parameter in a GPS of university orientation would seem very cynical. In fact, this important filter of automotive GPS is not part of the criteria mentioned on Parcoursup. It is not a question here of privileging toll highways or free cross roads. Yet the cost of education is a key issue for families.

None of the five parameters of a usual GPS seems obvious to learn about Parcoursup to find his academic background, so that the site, like Admissions Post-Bac, remains more a registration platform than it does not get close to a navigation aid tool.

So to find one’s way, one always has the possibility of lowering one’s window and asking one’s way to the first comer. Nowadays, it’s like turning to social networks. The young bachelor can attempt an incursion into the cacophony of YouTube and forums, or juggle between different institutional sites. Will that be enough to help him really to build a tailor-made course?

Author Bio: Alice Riou is an Associate Professor – Marketing and Innovation at EM Lyon