How does the Parcoursup algorithm work? 

We have dissected the Parcoursup algorithm for you! We will explain in detail the Parcoursup algorithm, its strengths and weaknesses, so that you don't get trapped when you choose your orientation.

Understanding the Parcoursup system

If we want to define Parcoursup, we can say that it is an orientation platform. It puts candidates in contact with institutions. A large number of institutions are on Parcoursup but some, like Albert School, are not. 

How does the Parcoursup algorithm work? 

Each student can apply for a maximum of 10 wishes with 20 sub-wishes. In concrete terms, this means that students can apply to a maximum of 10 institutions with a maximum of 20 courses. There are exceptions to this but we will not go into details. We advise you to never make only one wish, in order to maximize your chances of getting a course.

Compared to what was done in the past, students do not have to rank their wishes - they will still have to choose at some point, of course - and so at the time of the result, students receive the following answers for each wish: 

  • Yes : they are accepted in the training
  • A position on the waiting list, which will change over the weeks
  • No: Some selective programs (prep school, BTS, PASS, Sciences Po, etc.) do not rank students who do not meet their criteria.

If a student receives more than one "Yes" in a round, he or she must then select a school. This does not prevent them from continuing to wait to get a wish where they are waitlisted. 

This is the first trick of Parcoursup: the winners are those who wait the longest. At worst, you have your current wish, and the longer you wait, the more likely you are to get a wish you prefer. And this procedure can last from the beginning of June to the end of August. It is not easy when you have to look for a place to live at the end of the summer with a real estate market in strong tension. And such uncertainty for several months is obviously a source of anxiety for high school students... and their parents. 

When a student turns down a school, only then is a spot opened up for others at that school.

Selection criteria on Parcoursup

Institutions on Parcoursup generally have these different selection criteria:

  • The academic results of the 1st and 12th grades. Missing a term, for whatever reason, can be fatal. 
  • The opinion of the lycée. The "fiche avenir", which is filled out at the2nd quarter class council, indicates whether the candidate's wishes are in line with his or her profile. 
  • The "Motivated educational project" and "Activities and interests" sections also make it possible to evaluate the match between the applicant's wishes and his or her project. These two elements should not be overlooked.
  • Often, schools ask for a letter of motivation or may ask for a "portfolio" for art and design schools. 
  • In addition, some schools will ask you to take written or oral tests.

In addition to this, there is the respect of the rates set by the academy, which disrupts the selection rules, as we will see below in this article.

How do schools sort it out?

This is an important element that allows us to understand that certain biases can be created in the selection process. It should be noted that some institutions may receive several thousand applications for a given program. The institutions then have several ways of proceeding. Many will sort by hand, others will use a spreadsheet, for example. And also, and this is part of the innovations brought with Parcoursup, the platform provides what it calls "local algorithms" that allow for the rapid classification of applications. This does not prevent the manual sorting of applications that are at the limit of these evaluation criteria.

This innovation is very useful to help schools that do not have the human resources to sort through thousands of applications. The fact that each school sorts the students in its own way will obviously introduce some bias in the selection.

The criteria of the academy rectorates

Before the beginning of the admission phase, the academic authorities impose several criteria on post-baccalaureate institutions, which will introduce biases in the admission process. Here are some of them: 

  • A minimum rate of scholarship holders: Students receiving a high school scholarship (based on social criteria) have an advantage in all the programs available on Parcoursup. These are high school scholarships, which are more selective than higher education scholarships. 
  •  A maximum rate of non-residents: Proximity is favored by Parcoursup. A student from Paris who wants to go to university in the South will have fewer chances than someone who already lives there. This can be a significant barrier to accessing certain prestigious programs for students living in certain geographic areas. 
  • The IUT (University Institute of Technology) and the STS (Higher Technician Section) set a maximum rate for each type of baccalaureate (professional, technical or general).

Therefore, depending on their geographic location and social criteria, a lower ranked applicant may pass a higher ranked applicant, just to meet the rates imposed by the rectorates. 

The schools will then have a pedagogical ranking which will order the students according to performance criteria (grade, motivation, suitability for the professional project, etc.) and then an order of appeal resulting from this pedagogical ranking and respecting the rates set by the rectorate and therefore different from this pedagogical ranking

On the uncertainty of grades in high school

High school grades are no longer a sufficient criterion for evaluating applicants. Some schools can have classes with an average of 16 or 17 in certain subjects. This is called grade inflation. To maximize the chances of applicants, some schools tend to grade some students higher and higher. For example, this has been done to counter some local algorithms that do not rank students below a certain GPA. 

In practice, this means that in these high average classes, it is complicated to judge a student with an 18 average, is he average or excellent? In a class with a 16 average, a student with an 18 average may be excellent - and will have made a few careless mistakes on his or her tests - or just above average. That's why any applicant should put in their applications to less selective programs, so they don't get screwed.

Why it's important to look at alternatives outside of Parcoursup

Some schools, like Albert School, are not on Parcoursup. Here's why it's important to look at alternatives outside of Parcoursup. 

It is important to look at alternatives outside of Parcoursup

The selection processes are different and often unbiased. The rules of selection are often clear and well defined: one or more tests are administered to evaluate the level of education, regardless of the high school. A motivation interview will allow for a human evaluation of the candidates' motivation and their suitability for their professional project. Schools can choose their own timetable, which often allows students to better mature their choices rather than following the timetable imposed by Parcoursup. 

Moreover, the selection process is faster, in this case there will be no waiting for selection over several months, so there is less uncertainty about finding accommodation. And also, the curriculum is well known in advance, what you do from the first to the last year, what internships, what projects are all known in advance unlike other programs where you have to navigate by sight. 

Why Albert School is a quality alternative

One of the most promising sectors in recent years and one that will remain so for many years to come is data. At Albert School, we are convinced - shared by the professional world, and in particular our many partners - that data should not be detached from business. This is why we founded thefirst school to combine business and data. We aim to train people who are both analytical and technical, to master all the workings of data, but who also have a strong business understanding, which will enable them to create value from data.

Discover the Bachelor's degree offered by Albert School

Our training program is designed to offer excellent teaching, oriented towards both business and data. Tomorrow's leaders must master the fundamentals of data. What could be better than mastering them during their training? Through its Business Deep Dives, and its courses oriented around 4 axes: Data, Mathematics, Business and Humanities, Albert School offers the ideal training to meet the challenges of 21st century leaders.

From data analyst to business developer to project manager, Albert School's bachelor's degree trains students for the jobs of tomorrow and its training enables them to be relevant and create impact from the start of their career.

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