LSE: any point applying from France?

(53 Posts)
shockthemonkey Thu 17-Dec-15 18:17:36

I have seen talk of brilliant candidates from France being rejected by LSE. I am starting to believe it.

All buoyed up having had one success at LSE last year, I guided an outstanding applicant through the same process this year. Honestly his profile was great (Bac S Option Internationale with a conservative 17 MG and 17 in maths spé). He really nailed his PS.

His rejection email says it was his PS, but I have seen so many PSs by now that I know a good one when I see it. I find it stronger than the one which was successful last year.

The poor guy is gutted (though he has great offers from Warwick and Bristol) and I am considering gently discouraging LSE aspirants next time around.

Does anyone have any success stories getting into LSE from the French system, or have any insights regarding the "it was your PS" line from LSE? It does seem too easy as a "reason" for rejecting someone.

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Needmoresleep Thu 17-Dec-15 18:45:51

I assume it is for economics. 13 applicants for every place. All well qualified. The vast majority will be rejected. DS had a 4xA* prediction yet was rejected by UCL and Warwick on the basis of his PS but got LSE. One boy he knew got Cambridge on reapplication but not LSE.

Cambridge Warwick UCL and LSE are all highly regarded. Numbers mean it is a bit of a lottery. If he has an offer from Warwick he should be celebrating. Your next good candidate should also try all four in the hope of getting one.

It will have nothing to do with him being French. UK students are in the same boat. The very clear guidance given at DS' school is that competition for popular courses at top Universities is now so strong that application should be considered a two year process.

shockthemonkey Fri 18-Dec-15 06:13:29

Thanks so much, Sleep. That is reassuring. Yes it is Econ, should have said (and meant to say). He also applied to Oxford for Econ & Mgt and was not invited to interview after TSA.

I told him that Oxford was an extremely long shot (one in 14 of the very brightest) so he found that easier. He was really hoping with LSE because a friend of his had got in last year. I will tell him about your DS's PS being good for LSE but rejected by Warwick and UCL. That's a perfect illustration of the random nature of these things sometimes.

Congrats on your DS, that sounds brilliant.

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BoboChic Fri 18-Dec-15 06:20:51

LSE are inundated with French applicants, especially for Economics. The number of French applicants per place that LSE is prepared to allocate to French applicants is not 13 but closer to 50. Hence the lottery.

BoboChic Fri 18-Dec-15 06:24:43

Warwick and Bristol have fewer French applicants than they would like for Economics and are really quite easy to get offers from. All French applicants whose predictions meet the standard offer are given offers for Economics from those universities. I have this info verbatim from both departments' admissions people.

hattymattie Fri 18-Dec-15 06:28:14

I have also heard that the LSE are capping French applicants as they have too many - maybe this rather than the strength of your candidate. I get the feeling that many French just want to rubber stamp LSE on their job applications rather than actually benefitting from a positive university experience at the place. (I'm in France with children applying to uni in the UK by the way).

BoboChic Fri 18-Dec-15 06:37:27

Indeed. LSE gets far too many applications from French students who have heard the name but aren't truly informed/motivated and haven't even decided whether or not they really want to go to university in England.

The PS for LSE has to follow a very specific format and plan. This is used as a filter by admissions. If you don't follow the LSE plan you get rejected at the first hurdle.


BoboChic Fri 18-Dec-15 06:56:38

Also, thinking more about it - grade predictions of 17 and 17 in Bac S Spe Maths are right at the lower end of the grade predictions that I see for your typical French applicant for Economics looking at LSE/UCL/Bristol/Warwick. And right outside the Oxford zone.

Needmoresleep Fri 18-Dec-15 10:11:28

I would not be sure that it is a simple matter of a cap on French students, instead large numbers are applying so decisions are made on small margins.

E&M at Oxford is a very different degree, and also possibly Oxford's degree with the highest applicant to place ratio. I think it would be hard to write a PS which simulataneously says you want to study for a broader E&M degree and a very quantitative maths degree and impress both audiences. FWIW we know some very strong candidates with high TSA scores who were rejected, with the feedback that they were certainly good enough but so were many others.

I went to a talk by the Director of LSE a couple of years back about the future of LSE, which perhaps gave some insght into the threats and opportunities they percieve. The audience was alumni, more than a few presumably clinging to memories of full grants, Broad Left politics and occupying the Director's office, when the extra term meant it was hard for bright state school pupils to apply to Oxbridge so LSE boasted strong state/private ratios.

1. He talked about the LSE having become the world's most prestigeous vocational college. (Collective disapproval from members of the audience who felt Ralph Miliband would be turning in his grave.) Their largest degree is Accountancy and Finance. I don't recall how he put it but there is a similar problem with economics. If you look at The Student Room the LSE economics thread is very populated by overachieving kids from across the world (though enough French for the moderators to have to remind them to post in English) whose thinking seems to be "want to earn lots of money - want to be a banker - LSE economics is the place to go" and this is bourne out by the number of third years taking banking or accountancy options rather than economics options. The LSE response seems to be to offer a new, dedicated, Finance degree starting next year. A guess but if I were applying I would be careful to apply for the right degree, and if economics, would be careful to emphasise a real interest in economics itself. (There is a lot of overlap of courses amongst the various degrees so I suspect you would be able to select the same courses whatever degree you were on, and possibly some scope to switch degree after a first year if you found an increasing interest in pure/mathematics economics.)

2. He spoke about diversity. LSE's problem is attracting state school pupils from outside the M25. The normal British debate is about the ratio of state/private but with British students being in a minority this becomes a bit meanlingless. Instead the students themselves have been looking at economic diversity across the student body. I assume a good applicant from a low performing school whose has self studied AS FM as having a comparative advantage. I don't know if the same applies to French applicants but if your student is, say, from a working class background in Lens having to self study to achive reasonable grades, I would certainly emphasise this in any PS. (In short I suspect good applicants from Paris and London from advantaged backgrounds and prestigeous schools are in much the same boat.)

3. He spoke about public funding. LSE had the lowest percentage of public funding of any University in the UK. Barely over 10%. I assume this leads to conflicting aims, first to keep income from overseas students up so you can continue to attract top staff, but also perhaps, though not said, a need to educate a reasonable proportion of British students.

A lot of bright British applicants will choose Warwick over LSE/UCL because of cost and for student experience. (The same also applies for other subjects like maths.) Warwick runs the largest Erasmus programme in the UK and has a lot more students wanting to come in than it has students with the right language skills to send out. French students seem hung up on the LSE name. I don't know about quotas but a level of diversity is usually seen as desirable, so the result may be that LSE is marginally easier for British students and Warwick marginally easier for French students. Both institutions (and UCL) have strong reputations with London employers. Warwick will provide a more immersive experience, with less chance to escape to Cine Lumiere and South Ken coffee shops, but this may not be a bad thing. There will be plenty of other international students there.

Kennington Fri 18-Dec-15 10:32:19

In a totally different secter but why not the French schools?
I am always impressed when I see this on a CV.
I have also noticed that the French I have interviewed are not as well prepared in English as the German or Spanish. This may need to be addressed?

Needmoresleep Fri 18-Dec-15 10:51:57

I meant to say "quantitative economics degree". It is really a very different degree than E&M, though with the ability to focus on finance or accountancy when selecting options. But initially I think a PS should say that this is the type of degree you want to take...or you should apply for the dedicated finance or accountancy degrees. (A real advantage of LSE over, say, Cambridge, are the number of options. DS is likely to end up with a degree which is identical to those who applied for maths with economics. Had he known at the outset that maths was the bit he would enjoy most he could applied for that. Far less competition and slightly easier entry requirements.)

Kennington, we had a quick look at other European options when we realised how difficult the UK was going to be. We could not find anything similar to the sort of economics degree offered in the UK. One reason for the huge competition. Post graduate is different.

As with other subjects once you get beyond the top 4 or so ranked courses most candidates offering the required grades will get offers. So Nottingham, Birmingham, Bristol etc should not pose the same problem.

BoboChic Fri 18-Dec-15 11:02:07

There is no "marginal" about it: it is easy for French applicants to get an offer at Warwick for Economics the grade predictions/PS/reference are of a normally high standard. It is exceedingly difficult for such candidates to get an offer at LSE.

Needmoresleep Fri 18-Dec-15 11:25:23

In which case French students are lucky. It is far from easy for strong British candidates to get offers. DS was not the only one to struggle. another candidate who was rejected was on a full bursary with a dad in low income manual employment. At the open day they were clear. They would receive over 2000 applications from qualified candidates with only about 350 places available.

Perhaps what happens is that their acceptance rate from British applicants is high, and acceptance rates from French applicants is lower. Most French candidates are presumably also applying to French institutions and may well not take up a Warwick offer but would not hesitate taking up an offer at the LSE. (London after all is the sixth largest French city, Warwick is a field outside Coventry!)

Grade predictions/PS/reference for many rejected British applicants for Warwick are also high. Perhaps rather than suggest the LSE is being unfair, or suggest entry to Warwick is easy, French applicants should count their blessings.

Needmoresleep Fri 18-Dec-15 11:26:39

I've no idea why I have started writing "candidate". I mean applicant.

BoboChic Fri 18-Dec-15 11:28:42

I don't think anyone has suggested LSE is unfair to French applicants. Understanding why it is so much more competitive for French applicants is, however, very useful.

Nevertheless, LSE has issues with admissions that affect all applicants and that add a lot of luck into the mix!

Needmoresleep Fri 18-Dec-15 11:54:52

Bobo, my issue is the word "easy". DS is very happy at LSE but this is not true for everyone. There are others who would have preferred Warwick, but presumably, like him, did not get places.

Somehow stating that Warwick is "easy" for French applicants seems tactless. One thing that is clear is that Britain's top Universities/courses are focussed on their international standing, and that their admissions policies will be influenced by this. From our observation, Warwick seems to like applicants who offer a second (or fifth in one case we know) language. So I can accept "easier" but not "easy".

BoboChic Fri 18-Dec-15 12:01:20

I'm not sure why feelings are relevant in what is a very general discussion about the relative levels of competition for different populations on university courses?

Needmoresleep Fri 18-Dec-15 12:21:40

Here we differ. One thing that will be "easier" for French applicants is that they probably have two sets of applications on the go, with the French system presumably more or less guaranteeing a place to any applicant with the right grades.

The UK is different. It is a tough time for a lot of 17/18 year olds. Especially those applying to top courses where numbers dictate that an offer is a bit of a lottery. We had not expected this with economics, where DS ended up waiting from October to March for his Warwick/UCL rejections and his LSE offer. DD is in the same position as she is applying for medicine, but at least here we know that she will be waiting a long time, that she should be delighted if she receives any offer, and (oddly) that she has a better chance of receiving an offer at a prestigeous London University than her preferred campus/redbrick choices because many British applicants will be heading in the opposite direction.

I presume there will be lots of British applicants waiting on economics offers. It is stressful. I think their "feelings" are relevent.

BoboChic Fri 18-Dec-15 12:56:07

Their own private feelings are relevant. They just aren't relevant on this thread where the OP was asking whether there might be underlying reasons for her French applicant not getting an offer at LSE. And there are: statistics and probability!

French applicants through APB are not better off than British applicants through UCAS. The French market for HE is highly competitive and far less transparent than the UK system, with a lot of regulatory dysfunction thrown in for good measure. Hence the popularity of the UK where the supply of good/top courses is greater.

Needmoresleep Fri 18-Dec-15 13:10:33

Yes but my replies have been more general suggesting that strong competition exists for everyone and that all applicants should be prepared for it being tough. So for me the "feelings" of English applicants are relevent.

And maybe the answer is that English applicants, especially from state schools, will have some statistical advantage at LSE, whilst at Warwick there appears to be some advantage in perhaps offering a second language, or adding diversity to the campus.

Interestingly once on a course, entry qualifications don't seem (warning: anecote not evidence) to correlate very strongly with subsequent performance. Some Asian entrants in particular have really strong grades yet start to struggle. Not surprising once they reveal the level of additional tutoring that was culturally normal in their home countries. I don't envy the poor admissions tutors having to try to sort it all out.

BoboChic Fri 18-Dec-15 13:36:37

I think it is incredibly important for applicants to university courses to dig down and to try to work out what the probability (based on as many figures and statistics as they can get their hands on) is of them being accepted. One or two lottery ticket choices on a UCAS form is fine, but, to avoid disappointment and hurt feelings, it is only wise to (a) know what your chances are, statistically, of receiving an offer (b) not pin your hopes on tiny probabilities (c) make some judicious sure-thing choices in case all else fails. Point (c) is less relevant to international applicants who may be applying to university in several countries and whose back up plan might be Spain or Canada rather than a middling ranking UK university.

GoMilou Sat 19-Dec-15 10:29:46

Fascinating all this talk about the LSE.

Needmoresleep what was the ratio of home to international students when you were there?

DN, 14yrs old, is obsessed with the LSE and has read Piketty's fat book cover to cover shock Or so she claims.

Apparently I am paying her uni fees so I had better watch future developments at the LSE. And I wonder how random their selection process is when it comes to high performing students, last year they offered 19 places to one sixth form college in Wales. I told was told by the college that pretty much everyone who applied got an offer.

GoMilou Sat 19-Dec-15 10:57:17

DN used to tell everyone that would listen she was going to go to the MIT to do Maths, it's only since she's been in the UK (roughly 3 years) that she has started talking about first Imperial and now her latest crush is the LSE.

A student from the LSE was her mentor throughout yr10 and maybe that has something to do with it. Mentor hasn't continued with her into yr11 and when I asked school recently why not, I was told mentor was giving DN uni level reading material and DN was spending all her time reading that and doing homework set by the mentor and neglecting her school work.

CoteDAzur Sat 19-Dec-15 14:19:07

OP - Do you feel that Option Internationale at Bac S is an asset when applying for university? DD wants to do Bac S and we are going for OI, but we are also told by parents of older children who have already been through the process that UK universities don't care about OI. Some believe that OI is actually a hindrance because grades are lower.

What is PS?

shockthemonkey Sat 19-Dec-15 16:42:15

Back again! Some very interesting discussions.

Azur, OIB is sometimes appreciated, at some unis (Warwick certainly, Bristol iirc, a couple of others offer "discounted" entry criteria for OIB over the "straight" bac). ASIBA (Association des Sections Internationales Brittaniques et Anglophones) works quite hard to promote the OIB's selling points and tries to persuade unis to consider discounting entry criteria for OIB. However, the weighting of the different subjects means that OIB really favours English-dominant bilinguals and so I feel they are ever so slightly advantaged by taking the OIB option over the straight bac. My DS is doing OIB ES and I am a fan but am not expecting him to be considered terribly special when he comes to apply in the UK.

The French just love LSE as has been pointed out above -- anything in a capital city has to be better than something in the "provinces", I am often told, and of course, having the label "School" instead of "University" in the name has a very nice "Grande Ecole" ring to it for the French.

Yes an applicant with predictions of 17 MG and 17 maths looks relatively "borderline" for Oxford and LSE, but his school, maddeningly, has taken a look at the predictions lark and is enforcing a policy of "nothing over 17 will ever be given, no matter how strong the student". So he is getting 18 in his bulletins but his prediction was capped.

Just for info re applying to E&M at Oxford and Economics everywhere else, he knew the PS problem but was insistent on his choices. His chosen college at Oxford did tell me that they understand that most applicants for E&M are applying elsewhere for just econ, and so they were quite happy with PSs that were Management-light. That said, this student did a brilliant job of talking about economics whilst describing a very interesting management-related work placement so I think he did a good job there.

(PS = Personal Statement)

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