Many young people have chosen not to make any post-baccalaureate wishes in the metropolises or to refuse admissions there, because of the high cost of living and the distance from family.
Admitted, on the waiting list or refused: the results of Parcoursup have been falling in dribs and drabs since Thursday, June 1. The higher education assignment platform is feared by many candidates. By his sentence, thIt determines their training, their place of study and life over several years and, in the long term, their professional orientation. But for some, from rural or isolated areas, a financial barrier was established long before that of the algorithms. Franceinfo interviewed several high school students, currently at the end of their final year, limited in their choice of post-baccalaureate orientation.
“When I fulfilled my wishes on Parcoursup, I did according to the boarding school. If it was not offered by the high school, then I did not ask for the preparation”, tells franceinfo Laura *, who gives the Condorcet high school (Paris) as an example. However, she lives in Vémars (Val-d’Oise), a small town of less than 3,000 inhabitants located 30 km from the capital. But the transport time to the establishment, more than an hour and a half, would not have allowed him to follow the courses in good conditions. A management assistant mother, a security officer father: impossible for her to find accommodation in Paris, where you have to pay more than 800 euros per month for a small apartment. Waiting in several Parisian preparatory schools with boarding school, she hopes to go up the list and find a place at the Janson de Sailly high school.
>> Parcoursup: more than 500,000 candidates received a positive response
With galloping inflation and a tight rental market, financing studies is an additional difficulty for families living far from a big city in which the child plans to study. “It’s a brake that we have always identified, but it has continued to grow stronger. We see it in the mass of e-mails from parents who ask us if we have housing solutions in Paris “reports to franceinfo Margot Lecœur, president of the federation Des territories aux grandes écoles, which brings together 52 local associations for equal opportunities in rural areas. They award merit-based scholarships each year, in the amount of 6,000 euros over two years, to high school students who are struggling financially to integrate the major schools in metropolitan areas. In the Basque Country branch, where Margot Lecœur is also responsible, “ten additional applications for scholarships have been filed compared to last year”while the number of approved secondary schools remained the same.
Assume the rent of a big city
On the waiting list for a double history-Spanish degree in Toulouse, Olyana gave up this course when she was well ranked. “I couldn’t have gone there. Between the rent of a Toulouse apartment, the charges and the shopping… I don’t want to fall into precariousness so young”tells franceinfo this Breton high school student, who wanted despite everything “measure value” of his file. Around her, teachers tried to make her change her mind, suggesting that there was “solutions” to this funding problem. But Olyana feared to reproduce the model of her mother who, at the same age, “couldn’t eat some days”. “She tried to work alongside studying, but failed to finish law school,” recounts the one who accepted her admission to a history degree in Rennes. She will stay at the family home in Cardroc (Ille-et-Vilaine), about 30 km from the metropolis, and will go to college by bus, then by car once she has passed her driving license.
“I only have a scholarship of 1,450 euros per year. I find it unfortunate that my mother’s situation [isolée avec trois enfants] is not taken into account. With 500 euros per month, I could have made other career choices than staying in Brittany.”
According a 2019 study by the Jean-Jaurès Foundation, “52% of households have the possibility of financing accommodation outside the region or the youth academy”a number that “down eight points for rural households”. An opinion from the Economic, Social and Environmental Council (Cese) of 2017 also recalls that, for young people in rural areas, “the financial aspect is an obstacle to the pursuit of higher education, especially when it requires leaving the parental home”. If high school students living in a large city may also have to move during their studies, the cases are in reality more limited, the training offer being more extensive in their city of origin. “There are territorial inequalities in access to higher education since the rate of graduates reduces overall as one moves away from the big cities, in particular along the Bordeaux-Nancy diagonal”, point a report from the Court of Auditors published in February.
From country hypermarkets to city center convenience stores
Samuel, he saw some private schools of international relations and political science, like HEIP in Bordeaux (Gironde), win him over. But the high school student from Mouguerre (Pyrénées-Atlantiques), near Bayonne, cannot cover both the cost of living in a big city and the private tuition fees. “I already plan to take out a loan of 50,000 euros to pay for housing and live decently over five years. These training courses cost 10,000 euros from the first year”, exposes Samuel to franceinfo. His number one wish remains Sciences Po Paris, relocated to Reims (Marne). “I requested this antenna in order to reduce costs”, explains the Basque who, a few days after our interview, was finally refused. At the start of the school year, he will study in Lyon as part of a degree combining political science and law, or in Assas, in Paris, if he goes back on the waiting list. In view of his new life, far from parents and homemade meals, the young man is already anticipating daily purchases.
“To do my shopping, I’m thinking of using Too Good To Go [application de lutte contre le gaspillage alimentaire]it’s a way to eat well for not too much money.”
“Students who live with their parents generally do not need to feed themselves. For the others, the shopping basket has increased enormously, it plays a lot on the wallet. In addition, they go from country hypermarkets to town center convenience stores, where prices are already higher, recalls Margot Lecœur. Another line of expenditure for these young people uprooted from their land: the train. “Prices have skyrocketed over the past two years. While it is important for them to return, scholarship holders can often only afford it at Christmas and during the summer,” says the President of the Territories to the Grandes Ecoles. Minimum price for a round trip between Paris and Bayonne: 150 euros. “The Young Advantage card is good, but more needs to be done to reduce the distance between the rural world and the cities where schools are concentrated”she judges.
The fear of feeling out of place
Beyond the question of portfolio, the ambitions of rural youth are held back by other obstacles. “There is a real emotional and affective cost for them”explains to franceinfo Clément Reversed, sociologist at the Emile-Durkheim center in Bordeaux, whose work crosses youth and rurality. “I made the choice to keep a relatively well-ranked preparation, Ferma in Toulouse, and to refuse excellence, Louis Le Grand in Paris, because I was not ready to make certain sacrifices, illustrates Helena with franceinfo. Financially, I could have, but living in a city I don’t know didn’t appeal to me.”
“My mother suffers from a chronic illness and I only have one grandmother left. By moving to Paris, I wouldn’t even have been able to return every month.”
This high school student from Mazamet (Tarn), near Castres, also feared to suffer the full brunt of the gap between her rural way of life and a daily life in the heart of a metropolis of seven million souls. “I had this fear of losing myself and not being able to make friends, especially in a high school like Louis Le Grand, very elitist”, believes Helena. The one who esteems herself “lucky” to have grown up in a family where literature had an important place remembers with irony his last Parisian getaway. “I was at the Musée d’Orsay and I saw primary school students there. In my school, at their age, we visited farms”, laughs the Tarnaise. Between fear of the gap and feeling of illegitimacy, many rural high school students self-censor when making their wishes. On Parcoursup, Olyana did not select the Sorbonne, saying to herself that she had no “not the level”, besides running out of money.
Half as many rural people go on to a master’s degree
Sometimes, reluctance also comes from relatives. “There are families who insist very clearly on the fact that leaving is to trigger a form of rupture”, remarks Clément Reverse. Disembarking from one’s native village in a metropolis can also be perceived as a “change of social environment” and therefore a “treason”. “There is a high proportion of working classes and unskilled workers in rural areas”, recalls the sociologist. To these biases specific to rural people is often added the feeling of not having been sufficiently informed of the possibilities of orientation. A feeling shared by 42% of young people from rural areas, compared to 32% for young people from the Paris agglomeration, mentions the Jean-Jaurès Foundation.
Ultimate consequence: the proportion of graduates holding a master’s or a doctorate is “twice as low in very sparsely populated rural areas (7.3% of 18-29 year olds) than in urban areas (15.4%)”, underlines the Cese. But for Clément Reversed, staying in his region of origin and doing shorter studies can also be a mature and strategic choice: “We tend to wonder if rural people lack professional ambition. In reality, they have a logical relationship between training and employment, all linked to their territory. They anticipate their professional integration much more concretely than city dwellers.”
* The first name has been changed at the request of the interviewee.
Source: France TV Info