Post-bac orientation : three tips for registering on Parcoursup


Since 2018, Parcoursup is the point of passage for young people who want to enroll in the first year of graduate studies. This digital platform lists all post-baccalaureate courses recognized by the State (with a few exceptions, such as Sciences Po or some art schools), and since 22 January, each baccalaureate candidate can register ten wishful thinking.

Too often, last year, we met high school students disappointed to see their demands rejected. These, however, were out of their reach, given their low ranking in the list of applicants. However, if they had opted for a “non-selective” sector, they could have obtained a place in college to study precisely the theme that interested them.

“I did not know,” we answered some. “My parents did not want me to register, they said that the college is for dummies,” we have responded others. Note that the parents in question often did not know the university, or so long ago that their vision is now a lot of cliché .

High school students, families, end-school teachers, here are three tips from our academic experience that can help you avoid seeing Parcoursup become a puzzle:

  • Choose the train or formations that really interest you, without self-censorship.
  • Of your ten wishes, however, always reserve at least two choices for “non-selective” courses in universities, in a field close to your wishes and in line with your baccalaureate.
  • Come meet up with teachers and institutions at their “Open Days”(JPO). Warning: many will take place in early February, hurry!

A vast offer

What testimonials from parents telling us “Oh well, the university does not select? But that’s what we heard on TV. ” Let’s be rational. Many courses at the entrance of the university are non-selective: the university can only propose “yes” or “yes, if” to your wishes. Everyone has a place!

Among the non-selective formations, admittedly, some are called “in tension”, which means that the number of candidates far exceeds their capacity. As a result, the training is “completed” long before all the candidates have been called. But this concerns only a certain number of sectors, well identified: STAPS , PACES , Law or Psychology or Biology.

The training offer in license is much larger, since the university, in connection with research, offers training in almost all areas of knowledge. Note that some courses are alternating, professionalising closer to socio-economic needs.

In all these sectors, there can also be ten or twenty times more candidates than places. It is therefore very likely that the first response you receive in May will indicate that you are on the waiting list. But your position may very well evolve into a “yes” during the process. Because you are very numerous to make multiple applications with different priorities, and many places are therefore released. Be patient !

Our experience is that student motivation is a determining factor of success. High school students, choose in Parcoursup sectors that you like, without self-censorship. When you receive advice, ask yourself how long the person who spoke to you has been in touch with the reality she is talking about. And, if you have not already chosen the university, add one or two choices of “non-selective” university programs (and at least one in your academy), including with many “under-choice”, in the nearby fields your interests or professional project.

Accompanying devices

The non-selective (and not in tension) sectors welcome all the students who wish it. However, we typically receive 8,000 applications for a 500-seat stream. If you find 7000 e  on the waiting list, how to explain that there is no selection (and how to make sure of a place)? Simply by the large number of withdrawals, due to the 10 or 20 choices that each bachelor makes. Thus, the list of candidates is reduced naturally, without selection, until the 500 students who really wish to register can do so, with the status “yes” or “yes, if”.

If there are any concerns about the autonomy required for new undergraduate students, it should be noted that the universities have deployed strong means to accompany and better supervise the first years, especially the “yes, if”, even if the expectation of the university is great on the ability of students to quickly adopt the right methods of work. Gone are the days when students could be left to their fate in overcrowded lecture halls.

Be aware that other university courses available after the baccalaureate are selective by construction, such as IUTs, engineering cycles, and dual licenses. Universities can then say “yes”, “yes, if” or “no”.

An environment of excellence

If universities open their doors to all, that does not amount to making concessions with their demands for excellence, on the contrary. With their partners, particularly research organizations, universities are at the forefront of the latest scientific advances. Look for where the overwhelming majority of the Nobel Prize winners came from and where  it is at university.

However, you do not need to be a future Nobel to study at the university. Motivation matters and, together with our partners in the socio-economic world , today’s universities form responsible citizens, with critical minds, humanistic values, autonomy and a necessary perspective flourish in society and build the world of tomorrow.

Do not hesitate to go to the “open days” of universities or schools that you covet! They usually take place in the month of February, and there is nothing better than listening to the advice of those who teach directly, to see the premises and the atmosphere. And do the survey on the knowledge and skills you will acquire, the experiences you will experience, the possibilities of traveling abroad, as well as the prospects for professional integration.

Author Bio: Hervé Dole is Professor (Astrophysics and Physics) – Institute of Space Astrophysics (CNRS & University Paris-Sud), at Paris Sud University – Paris-Saclay University

Thanks to Isabelle Demachy and Nathalie Hatton for their help in writing this article.