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Off-Campus Study

ISEP at Université du Maine (Le Mans)

 

Le Mans is best known for its 24-hour sports car race and its well preserved old city where Cyrano de Bergerac was filmed. As the ISEP site in France closest to Paris, Le Mans offers students a combination of a charming small French town with easy access to the City of Lights. As one of the smaller universities in France, the Université du Maine offers students the opportunity to engage with other French students, to take courses taught in French in most subjects, and improve their French language skills.

Students studying in France must be independent, self-reliant, organized, and able to handle ambiguity in order to successfully immerse into the highly structured and often times bureaucratic French university system.

A student must be comfortable with advocating for themselves on campus and comfortable with the local language to thrive in this location. Student services and especially class registration may not be at all similar to what is done at the College and may be difficult for some students to adjust.

Learn more about the Université du Maine here! Read the ISEP Country Handbook to learn more about visa requirements, educational system, and culture.

Program Type

Exchange

Locations

Le Mans, France

Languages of Instruction

French - 4-5 semesters of college-level French or equivalent is required

Program Dates

Fall 2018: September to December

Spring 2019: January to May

All dates are tentative and may change.  ISEP will alert all accepted students of final dates.

Eligibility

To be eligible to participate in this program, students must meet the following requirements:

  • Good academic and judicial standing during time of application AND time of participation in program
  • Undergraduates must have completed at least two semesters of study at Lake Forest College AND have junior status or higher before participation. 
  • At least 18 years of age by the program’s departure date. 
  • Be able to stay at the host program for the duration of the semester, including through the exam and travel periods
  • Minimum GPA of 2.75.  
  • Language Requirement: A minimum of 4-5 semesters of university-level French or its equivalent must be completed prior to the program. More French is recommended for advanced studies, especially in technical areas.
  • Students must submit ISEP language proficiency report in the application, even if native speaker.

 

Students applying to ISEP must apply for an Exchange option (in any country) as a first choice but may apply to a Direct option as a back-up.  Direct options may have an additional cost.


ISEP Exchange chance of placement for US students is generally Excellent.

Location

Situated on the Sarthe river, Le Mans is about 55 minutes by train (TGV) southwest of Paris. The city is of great interest from a historical and geographical point of view: the Gallo-Roman walls still stand 1700 years later as a testament to the excellence of Roman engineering. These walls encompass the Vieux Mans along with several houses celebrating the architectural diversity of different historical periods: the Middle-Ages, the Renaissance and the 18th century. Le Mans Cathedral displays a beautiful combination of Roman and Gothic art due to its different periods of construction from the 11th to the 15th century. Numerous cultural activities and events take place year round (theater, dance, and music–including a renowned Jazz festival in May.) Le Mans is also famous for the race “Les 24h du Mans” in June of every year.

Academics

Founded in 1969, Universite du Maine is a small multidisciplinary institution with a single campus. As one of the smaller universities in France, the Université du Maine offers students the opportunity to engage with other French students, to take courses taught in French in most subjects, and improve their French language skills.  

 

ACADEMIC ENVIRONMENT AND TEACHING STYLE

French universities operate in ways that are quite different from the system with which you are familiar. Understanding the differences will help you plan your program of study in France, use your time effectively while you are there and return with transferable credits. French students follow a highly structured curriculum specific to the degree they are pursuing from day one at the university. They do not take “liberal arts” or general education requirements for 2 years before focusing on a major or area of study as most U.S. students do. 

In general, French students have to assume more responsibility for their own lives on campus than American students. They do not have as many campus support systems as American students, and they too may experience frustration when they first begin their studies! The amount of information you receive before you leave and during the first days or weeks of your stay abroad may seem overwhelming. However, if you review the material sent to you by ISEP and your host institution carefully, you will be ready to meet the challenges of adjusting to a different system and find your coordinator and professors more willing to help you than if you had not prepared yourself.

French professors are not as accessible as their American counterparts. Increasingly, however, professors do have office hours or may be available if you make an appointment. They will also be willing to answer questions and discuss problems before or immediately after class. It would be a good idea to introduce yourself to the professor at the beginning of the year, explaining that you are an international student. Do ask other students in class for advice or assistance if you do not understand something.

Please understand that the academic system is quite different. Classes are usually lecture-based, instead of discussion or group work. Classes are often much larger than those found at Lake Forest College. Grades are based heavily, at times almost entirely, on one end-of-term exam, though some courses will also offer a midterm.  Professors are often more formal than those in the United States.

All courses/modules may have prerequisites.  Some departments may have limitations on numbers of courses that can be taken within or outside it.  Be aware of these limitations.

Can review the country handbooks for ISEP here as well:

http://www.isep.org/students/Placed/country_handbooks.asp

 

ISEP Placement info: http://www.isep.org/Coordinators/us_placement_notes_english.asp

  

COURSEWORK

Students typically enroll in 5-6 classes per term which average to #-12-15 hours in class per week. A term runs for 13-16 weeks.  Students must enroll in 30 ECTS to earn 4 Lake Forest credits.

For more information on courses being offered: click here.

For tips on finding courses: click here.

Language Notes: A French language course is offered throughout the school year for lower-intermediate, upper-intermediate, and advanced levels. Contact hours per week; lower-intermediate (4 hours/week), upper-intermediate (4 hours/week) and advanced (2 hours/week).

Additional Information: ISEP students may also take a one hour per week translation course designed specifically for English speakers. Other language classes offered are not tailored for foreign students but do include courses on French syntax and linguistics. A good command of French is required for these courses.

 

REGISTRATION AND COURSE SELECTION

Registration (inscription) is the process of enrollment into the university; you will fill out many forms and hand in several passport-size photos in order to receive the various university cards signifying your enrollment.

Course Selection: 
As an exchange student, you have greater flexibility in choosing courses than French students do. You do not need to take a complete package of courses at one level. However, if you focus on courses in one or two departments, you will find it easier to put together a schedule, your program of studies will be more cohesive, and you will have a better chance of getting to know French students because you will be seeing the same group on a regular basis.

Selection of courses is done during registration. You should expect to have to go to each building that houses the faculté (department) of the course you wish to take, find the administrative office, ask for a course listing and sign up for the desired course. Students should be aware that the registration process can take several days. French universities are not as “service-oriented” as those in the United States and there are many students for few administrators. Ask questions of your ISEP host coordinator if you have trouble registering. Also, the add-drop process is very informal. You may want to observe several classes before making your final selection and to make sure that you will be able to follow the course and fulfill all course requirements. Remember to consult about any changes in your course selections with your host and home coordinators and advisors. Be sure to keep track of your courses, including course titles, hours, professors, and assignments for after your exchange. In all cases, you must verify all of your course information with your host coordinator to ensure that you have enrolled properly.


EXAMS AND GRADING

Student performance is assessed in two ways:

  • Short quizzes given throughout the semester allow instructors to check what their students have learned in each unit.
  • Examinations covering all of the material presented during the semester are given at the end of each semester, generally just before the February break and again in June, before the summer break.

The atmosphere at a French university may seem low-pressure, but be on your guard. Even if a class does not require regular assignments, you must keep up with the reading and attend classes. Final examinations are given at the end of each course. ISEP students should check with professors to determine when the exam will be given as most professors do not provide a syllabus at the beginning of a course. As a foreign student, you may not be required to take the final exam. You may be able to substitute written assignments for the exam. Check with the professor to find out whether you are expected to take the exam in order to get a grade (in many instances, the exam might be the only evidence that you have taken the class) or whether you can substitute other assignments. Taking a final does not automatically entitle you to a grade since you must pass your exams to receive a grade. Also, make sure to register for the exam in addition to taking it.

If you make any special arrangements with a professor, obtain the agreement in writing signed by both you and the professor. Provide a copy of the agreement to both your home and host ISEP coordinators and keep a copy for yourself. Without an agreement in writing, it is expected that you will take all final exams. Credit transfer is not guaranteed if you fail to take exams or provide written proof of other arrangements.

Course Approvals

Check to see if your department has pre-approved courses here. If not, don’t worry. You can work with your advisor.

Student Life

Founded in 1969, Universite du Maine is a small multidisciplinary institution with a single campus. Total enrollment: 7,500. 

 

ORIENTATION

The International Relations Office, the ISEP Coordinator, and their team of student volunteers welcome the students individually. Campus tours and various other social events are organized. The ISEP Coordinator establishes the study program with each student and will meet the students regularly during their stay.

ARRIVAL DETAILS 

The host will provide arrival directions with acceptance packet.

 

For student life information: click here.

Housing and Meals

ISEP students live in residence halls with a private shower and bathroom. Students also receive a stipend to cover the cost of 19 meals/week at the university cafeteria. 

Financial Information

For all approved programs for guaranteed financial aid transferability, students pay their Lake Forest College tuition plus a program fee. The program fee for a semester with the ISEP Exchange program includes orientation, on-site director, college fees, housing, and a stipend to cover the equivalent of 19/meals per week.

Here is an estimated budget for the Fall 2018/Spring 2019 semesters:

Budget Item

Amount

Lake Forest College Tuition

$22,412

Program fee (estimated)

Note: Spring may have added cost

$5,100

College Deposit (credit)

($250)

Total Expected Billed by Lake Forest College

$27,512

ISEP Fee due on Stage 2 Application

 $325

College Deposit due on Acceptance (non-refundable, but shows as credit on bill for off-campus term)

 $250

ISEP-required health and repatriation insurance ($90/mo estimated)

Note: Some countries require national insurance. Check ISEP

 $360

Additional Meals

 $800

Estimated Airfare

 $1,200

Estimated Personal Expenses (passport, visas, immunizations, textbooks, supplies, personal expenses, additional national insurance, if required, travel insurance, additional travel etc.)

 $2,100

Total Out-of-Pocket Expenses

 $5,035

Total

 

$32,547 

 

Tuition rates and program fees are subject to change each year, but this information was up-to-date as of March 2017.  We will notify applicants, and update this page if the program fee or other estimates change.

Keep in mind that you may spend more or less in certain areas like personal expenses, travel, meals, or airfare, depending on exchange rates and your own spending habits. Classroom or lab fees are not included in this estimate and will depend on your course registration choices.  

Don’t forget to apply for scholarships! A great listing can be found here.  

Do check your student account on My.Lakeforest for your aid awards, as much of this will go with you. If you want to compare your program to the cost of being on campus, those numbers can be found here: https://www.lakeforest.edu/admissions/tuition/fees.php

You can discuss with Financial Aid your specific aid package and your expected family contribution.

Experiences of Former Students

WHAT PAST STUDENTS HAVE TO SAY

“The size was perfect for me. Everyone I met there was very helpful and kind, which is the product of a small city with few tourists. It is a great place to study if you are interested in improving your French and meeting nice people.” - ISEP student in Le Mans Spring 2009