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In 2018 France released Parcoursup, an application process designed to allocate undergraduate students to different programs, which now allows student to register to diplomas such as the PaRéo diploma (Passport to Succeed and Get Oriented). Indeed, as is the case in many countries, entering the higher education system may be a daunting transition for many high school graduates without a clear idea of their next steps in life.
This is why several universities in Paris have put in place new atypical degrees to assist them in that search. The University Paris Descartes thus created the PaRéo diploma. It was designed in 2015 for enrolling undergraduate students without a clear idea of what to do but who do not wish to take on a gap year. The University Paris XIII duplicated the degree in 2019. Next September a similar degree will be introduced at the University d’Evry.
The PaRéo is a Diplôme Universitaire (which differs from a bachelor’s degree) and allows struggling bachelor’s students or high school graduates to either re-orient their path or differ their entry into university.
During one year, undergraduate students fresh out of high school can therefore try out courses in several subjects, i.e. research methodology and, more importantly, think about what they want to do while having counselling services from the university. This allows students to remain in the higher education system while still having the possibility to pursue internships, work in charity or even travel abroad after the month of March. As the University of Evry noted, in academic year 2017-2018, more than a thousand students out of 3000 enrolled for the first year had dropped out without registering anywhere else. These diplomas may avoid such outcome.
Concerning ETCS points, such diplomas vary between universities. For example, the DU Open offered by the Université catholique de l’Ouest is validated by 60 ECTS credits, allowing students to get accepted directly at the second year of a bachelor’s programme while the University of Lyon offers the Semestre Universitaire de Réorientation, focused on sciences and resulting in ECTS if afterwards students pursue a diploma in science.
With these degree, which are neither a bachelor’s or a master’s degree, the objective is dual: to avoid leaving young students without any training and to allow them to build a project with a positive and concrete outcome.