Private or public college: on what criteria to choose?

Private or public college

Entry to college is often a great time of stress for the new sixth grader, as for his parents. Fear of a school too big, lack of supervision, the assumed level of the courses … Some parents embark on a comparative study to decide between the public college of their sector and a private college more or less close. Patent success rateand rare languages or student profile and tuition fees … What are the questions to ask before making a decision?

Patent success rate

In 2015, according to data from the Ministry of Education, as reported by L’Etudiant magazine , the success rate for the college diploma was 96.2% in the private sector , compared with 83.4% in the public . Same difference for the mention rate: 72% of mentions in the private sector , against 54.6% in the public.

These two rates are often the first of the criteria examined by parents as the most obvious. But they are not necessarily the most relevant. It is difficult to choose a college based on this criterion alone: if the private sector achieves such good results, it is notably because it can select its students, but also because it welcomes more young people from privileged backgrounds, better prepared to succeed in their studies . Moreover, unlike the Ministry’s data on high schools , there is currently no indication that each of the 7,000 French colleges has the capacity to advance all , not just the best, students.

Options and “special” classes

With the disappearance of Latin and Greek as a separate subject in public colleges, parents who are fond of ancient languages may be tempted to turn to the private sector, which will continue to offer these options, unlike the public who ”  inject “into multidisciplinary teaching. “Latin can not be a criterion of choice alone, relativizes Valerie Marty, president of PEEP (Federation of parents of pupils of public education), it should count far less than the envy of the child to study it, or not. “

The existence of a class with schedules adapted can also weigh the balance on one side, or the other. If the child is already at the conservatory of music, theater or dance in primary school, perhaps he will be tempted by a CHAM (classes with timetables arranged music), a CHAT (theater), or a CHAD (dance )? These special classes, which select their students, will not be affected by the reform of the college. Just like the international sections, and the sports sections.

Foreign and regional languages. Mandarin, Portuguese, Russian, Breton, Occitan … While most private and public colleges offer relatively conventional foreign language choices, some may choose to distinguish themselves by offering “rare” languages –   which see it as a skillful way of preserving social mix in their classes. “Again, it is first and foremost the child’s desire to study a particular language that will guide the choice of parents,” insists Valerie Marty.

Another solution for foreign language lovers is the bilangue classes , which allow students to study two languages from the 6th onwards , instead of waiting for the 5th. Problem: their maintenance in the public as in the private is very variable according to the academies: 100% of the bilangues are maintained in Paris, 95% are suppressed in the academy of Caen.


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