She has had a long career in the environment and then in finance where she advised French giants on behalf of Goldman Sachs and Rothschild & Co. For five years and her meeting with the French finance specialist Maurice Tchénio, Elisabeth Elkrief took over the presidency of his foundation, called AlphaOmega. This accompanies and finances seven associations which work for education alongside the “mammoth” of National Education.
These organizations such as Entreprendre pour learn, Coup de Pouce and the AFEV intervene on a daily basis to fight against school dropouts and social inequalities. By supporting children, teenagers or students in their career path, these associations try to break down the barriers that stand in the way of the most vulnerable. While the Parcoursup platform has just opened its period of wishes, arousing excitement and anxiety among high school students, Elisabeth Elkrief delivers a lucid look at the orientation of students. A key moment which must be a moment to question oneself.
The opening of vows on Parcoursup is the great stress for high school students, isn’t it?
It all depends on the progress of the student. The Parcoursup platform should only be the culmination of self-knowledge. Before entering their wishes, high school students must be able to answer a lot of questions. What is their dream? Who they are ? What do they like and dislike? Are they more creative or serious? Rather free and autonomous or do they need to be accompanied? Do they want to work a lot? These questions will help them make a choice. Because it is not the platform that will answer these questions. It has to be anticipated, thought out and prepared in advance. Parcoursup is a matching algorithm, like a dating site. It has the merit of objectifying the choices, of prioritizing the wishes. But it also generates a lot of anxiety. Some sites have taken it up to promote private schools that are often very expensive and which sometimes do not recognize themselves.
Are high school students really free to choose?
There are a myriad of avenues of study and I can understand some feeling lost. I believe that the first choice must be dictated by desire. But high school students still need to know what to do to be chosen. How do you know what schools prefer? Do you have to study math or history? We have no visibility on the expected requirements. If it was a dating agency, one might wonder if the partner prefers blondes or browns. People are made to believe that they will have a chosen orientation when there are drastic selections in certain places and bottlenecks in certain sectors. Everyone wants to do right or psycho when there are 80% failure rates at the exit. It must be said.
Do we have the right to be wrong?
Sure. There are no wrong choices. The choices we make are not irreversible, especially since we are constantly building bridges between sectors. But we know that for the most vulnerable, studies are a real sacrifice for them and for their families. They have no time to waste. If they get their voices wrong or fail, they can quickly drop out. In underprivileged areas, getting an education is a feat. It takes a lot of willpower to change social class. The associations we support are there to support them, accompany them.
Is there a risk in making your choices to “please” your parents?
At 17 or 18, we are made to believe that teenagers have become adults, that they are independent because they are in college. It is however the place of all the dangers. It is estimated that 19% of students stop their studies without a diploma. You have to watch them, accompany them. But don’t force them to do such a course if they don’t want to. Orientation must also be a moment of emancipation for young people. Their choices allow them to inhabit their own lives.
What are the solutions to help young people in their orientation?
The reflection must above all be personal. Young people need to find a course that appeals to them. Finding a job is abstract for them. They often only know their father’s or mother’s job, and even then, without really knowing what they are doing. The Article 1 association that we support launched the Inspire site, which connects “scout students” and high school students. They are not there to replace the teachers but they can testify and explain their journey, how they got there. Orientation can turn into a discovery game. The young person must appropriate it, open doors, explore avenues that will allow him to form his own opinion. Instead of stressing, there is a fruitful time to spend to ask yourself and question yourself. It is often the first time that we ask ourselves: what do I like? You have to take the time to think about it and discuss it.