You probably wonder: Who are those students who spend the day at their stand giving out food and goodies? Who are those students coming right in the middle of a lecture to perform a choreography? Well, the answer is the “L3” students coming from the “prépa” track.
But I guess most of you never heard of prépa before arriving at HEC. So what is this French peculiarity?
The prépa is a two-year long intensive academic program. It is extendable to three years if unsatisfied with the result of your first attempt to enter a French business school. Indeed, you have to sit a competitive exam nationwide. It starts with written tests (end of April/beginning of May) on what you have learned over the past two years. The candidates are then ranked according to their results (beginning of June). This ranking enables a select few to compete through oral exams at the schools themselves (June/beginning of July). For HEC Paris, only 700 students out of more than 5000 are allowed to go through the oral exams. The final ranking (mid-July) then determines who will actually enter the school in September. HEC only offers a place to the first 380 students on its ranking.
Maybe, if you bear those elements in mind, you’ll be able to better understand your classmates. Indeed, for a prépa student, arriving at HEC is really synonymous with freedom and reward. You’ve finally reached the goal you had set for yourself two or three years ago. At last, you’re going to have time aside from work, a time you can dedicate to projects that are meaningful to you, to friends, to sports or simply time to get to know who you are or who you want to be. At HEC, another chapter of your life starts and it’s one in which you are clearly instructed that “everything is possible”.
Yet already you have to choose! Are you going to fly away to another country, another university in January? Or next September? Do you want to study Mathematics, Economics, Law or Humanities at the French university simultaneously?
In which student club do you want to get involved? Or do you want to team up with other students to compete to be the next Junior Entreprise, the next Student Artistic and Cultural Association or the next Students’ Union? Do you have a new idea and want to get your own club started?
But most importantly: don’t forget to take advantage of the many events on campus, such as a conference by Nobel Prize Eric Maskin at the start of the year. There is almost always something happening!