A good student is someone who...

Un bon étudiant est quelqu'un qui...

attends classes regularly to gain knowledge in their chosen field.

cares, works hard, and wants to learn.

completes work on time and goes to class.

deeply understands the material, thinks about it outside of class, and can apply it.

does good work, comes to class on time, and is respectful to the teacher.

does his or her best work.

is interested in the subject; works hard and diligently; asks questions.

is motivated and takes initiative, enjoys acquiring knowledge and analytical skills, and who takes one's work seriously.

is organized and tries his/her best.

is responsible and helps his classmates.

learns more than what is required.

pays attention and does their work

reads, studies, tries hard.

studies hard, asks alot of questions, is active in the classroom and says hello and goodbye to their teacher and or classmates at the start or finish of the lesson.

studies hard, stays focused and is driven to succeed.

studies hard. MIT student, polite, overachieves

studies, does their homework, participates in class, volunteers their services

studies, is organized, is dedicated.

succesfully learns the neccesary ideas and tools and ably uses them afterwards

works hard and completes work on time

works hard and is enthusiastic.

works hard to accomplish his or her best, and who has a genuine interest in learning

works hard, is smart, has goals.

works hard, studies well, is smart

apprend avec intérêt et qui se pose des questions qui l'obligent à essayer de trouver les réponses

concilie travail efficace et vie sociale active et animée

est assidu, travaille

est intéressé à ce qu'il étudie

est sérieux et s´intérresse à toutes sortes de choses, ne s´en tient pas à ce qu'il apprend en cours, mais pousse plus loin ses recherches

est sérieux, travaille, s'intéresse, progresse

est sérieux, travaille, sait gérer son temps et a de bons résultats

réussit, est intéressé, se fait plaisir

réussit, travaille, s'amuse

sait allier vie sociale et travail

sait bien ce qu'il veut faire et le fait bien.

sait travailler quand il faut.

travaille beaucoup, qui participe aux activités de l'Ecole


This is one of the last phrase completion discussions to be commenced, possibly for a reason: the responses between French and American students are very similar. This is not too surprising as the representatives of both sides on this forum are individuals who value the importance of studying and had to be pretty good students to get where they are right now. The difference I can comment on is one dealing with rough linguistics (though I'm not really experienced in the study of linguistics in itself). I noticed that only French students use the term "qui sait [verbe]", which literally translates to "who knows [how to do something]" in English. The American responses are largely limited to students "doing" something or "being" a certain way (and several French responses are similar), but to say "to know" is unusual in the English language for some reason. One thing the American side has more than the French side (perhaps merely due to the limited sample size) is concern with issues beyond the individual level; for example coming to class on time, having respect for the teacher, and likewise. Overall, however, responses on both sides are similar, despite this being expected from a relatively studious sample of individuals as ourselves.

I agree with Gleb in that the responses seem very similar on both sides, which makes sense considering that MIT and Ecole Polytechnique are both very prestigious schools filled with what we would define as "good students." I did find one small difference to be interesting; that is that several French students used the word serious. No American students said this, but I believe it was implied in other responses, particularly those that described actions, such as attending class, paying attention, doing work on time--these are all things that could probably be classified as examples of a serious student.

I agree with you guys on this as well-- my main observation about this topic, though, was the lack of anything relating to fun on the MIT side versus the mention of things like balancing work with a social life on the French list. We do have fun here at MIT... when we're not working... I promise :)

I agree with Holly that the MIT students seemed to relate school with all work and no play. That is probably due to the difference between connotations of "school" and say "college". The latter involves a sense of community and fun, where the first just seems to imply work. Can you think of any similarity to that in french?

I agree that the most interesting difference is the balance between work and play. I think that a vital part of the university experience is the social aspect and also learning how to balance work with relaxation. Unfortunately, MIT students are, in my experience, pretty poor at this. Many (though by no means all) people work very had, and then when they're not working tend to just laze around and not do anything constructive like being involved with university societies. Does Ecole Polytechnique have a similar problem, or do students tend to be involved in extra-curricular activities like sports, drama or music?

Pour Colin Berkley : Comme l'a dit Marie dans une autre conversation, nous avons beaucoup de sports a l'ecole Polytechnique : 6h par semaine avec des competitions. DE plus, il existe plus de 100 associations a l'ecole, certaines ne servent pas a grand chose, mais beaucoup d'eleves s'investissent dans de nombreux projets, et la direction de l'ecole apprecie que l'on fasse des activites extra-scolaires et que l'on ne passe pas notre temps a travailler. Par contre, je pense qu'il y a des elves qui ne s'investissent nulle part et c'est vrai que je trouve ca dommage, surtout pour eux. Mais vraiment, on a beaucoup de possibilites pour faire pleins de choses en dehors du travail, peut-etre meme trop : plongee, parachute, soutien scolaire, microfinance, cours de cuisine, de photo, formation secourisme, voyages, randonnees, musique....

I agree with everyone in that MIT responses focused mostly on the academic level by describing ways to perform well on tests. It does not address at all the personal development process of college students. The French responses on the other hand painted a picture in my mind of a student who is excited about what he/she is learning, takes an interest in various other activities, and has an active social life. In other words, a generally well-rounded person. Thinking about these various qualities ascribed to the "good student" as perceived by the French makes me wonder why a smaller percentage of MIT students are involved in extracurriculars. With so much work, what motivates the Polytechniciens to engage in extracurriculars?

De façon générale, on retrouve, comme dans le thème « un bon prof » (cf. mon commentaire), que les américains définissent un bon élève par ce qu’il FAIT (« attends class » ce que ne font apparemment pas les bons élèves français vu qu’ils ne le disent pas… ou bien, est-ce une évidence pour eux ?...; « works hard », « learns more than what is required », « studies hard »…), alors que les français le définissent par ce qu’il EST : la liste des réponses française compte ainsi 5 fois l’utilisation de l’auxiliaire être avec « est sérieux », « est assidu »…Comme souvent, on retrouve le thème très américain de l’effort dans leurs réponses : par exemple l’adjectif « hard » est employé 11 fois alors qu’un seul polytechnicien dit – devrais-je dire avoue ?... – qu’un bon élève « travaille beaucoup ». Au contraire, la vie d’un bon élève français semble très réjouissante « il progresse », « il se fait plaisir », « il s’amuse »…Or cela est révélateur d’un état d’esprit très particulier : en France, un élève est un bon élève dès lors qu’il cesse d’être un élève, et c’est la raison pour laquelle les réponses françaises font tant état de l’importance du développement personnel. On parle ainsi de « concilier un travail efficace et [une] vie sociale active et animée », on dit que le bon élève « sait gérer sont temps », qu’il « sait allier vie sociale et travail » et, plus spécifiquement, qu’il « participe à l’Ecole [Polytechnique] ». Tout cela résulte à mon avis aussi d’un mépris français du travail : il n’est pas forcément très bien vu de dire que l’on travaille beaucoup, j’imagine que cette activité nous semble trop vulgaire – encore une prétention française me direz-vous. Oui, je pense que cela est peu être un peu prétentieux, mais finalement, même si l’on passe souvent – et malheureusement - à côté de la méritocratie, il n’en reste pas moins que ce mépris de l’effort nous a permis d’être un des pays où l’on vit le mieux au monde, où l’on travaille le moins (notamment grâce ou avec la loi des 35h) et où l’on arrive – tout de même ! - à rester un pays très productif. Nous avons simplement une autre culture de ce que veut dire travailler : on essaie d’y mettre du plaisir, de l’intégrer à sa vie et, finalement, d’en faire aussi un atout de notre vie personnel, sans toutefois faire de son métier sa vie. Il est intéressant de constater que cette thématique est soulevée en ce moment au cours des élections présidentielles française : on parle de réhabilité le travail, de laisser travailler ceux qui voudrait travailler plus…je ne sais pas si cette problématique évoque quelque chose pour un américain, mais sachez qu’en France, il n’est pas un seul sans que cette question ne soit posée de façon plus ou moins explicite. Je vous prie de bien vouloir m’excuser, mais je vais devoir arrêter là ma réflexion car je dois…aller travailler ;)

Guillaume-I think your remark about what a student does vs. what it is proves to be valid. However, I did want to talk about your reflection on "hard working." I think, at least from my perspective, since I put down hard working as one of the characteristics that I meant it not in the sense of being drudgery, but rather, about someone who puts effort into what they do rather than just sitting back and relaxing. I don't know what others would say about this, but I know that at least for me, I would say hard work is important for even the classes that I enjoy. When I talk about hard work in those terms, it doesn't have a negative feeling: it's more about the effort put in. I do agree that some view hard work as no fun, but in my opinion, it can be very rewarding. I also do concur that other characteristics do define a student, like combining certain aspects of your life together, but I guess those are just my thoughts on what you were saying. What do you think?

I have a random comment: one of the most entertaining things I find about MIT is how we're really good at making work (or nerdy things in general) into clubs and teams, complete with competitions that often garner larger audiences than football games. We have robotics competitions, for example, where this is especially apparent. Are students at L'Ecole Polytechnique involved in activities like this, and are they very popular as well?

I understand that there are exams that pretty much decide whether or not you will go to college. Is there any emphasis on extracurricular activities? In the US, we have the SATs and ACTs. However, this is not the entire application. Schools also look at your recommendations and your extracurriculars - what sports, did you volunteer, etc. Is this stressed in France as well?

En France les activites extra scolaires sont aussi beaucoup valorises surtout dans les ecoles d'ingenieur et de commerce. Et je pense aussi que c'est tres important, cela montre que l'on est capable de s'investir dans d'autres domaines, et d'etre socialement actifs. Je pense que c'est tres important d'etre capable de communiquer et que les activites que l'on est capable de faire en dehors des etudes peuvent etre tres representatives de notre comportement en societe. Cela peut egalement nous aider a apprendre a trvailler en groupe et c'est tres utie.

Guillaume: I agree with your comment about what a "žgood student" is (or should be), since the same frame of reference appears in Eastern European culture. There is a big (and obvious) difference between someone who succeeds at something by spending a lot of time and "working hard,"? and someone who is, in one way or another, able to surpass that with less effort. To take a simple example, one can solve a problem by working hard, looking at many examples, and often memorizing the procedure to solve this particular type of problem. But what this method lacks is a clear understanding of the underlying theory of why the solution is the way it is. Another approach is to try to understand the deeper theory and significance of the problem one is trying to solve, and when that is clear, it is much easier to solve any problem, even is it differs a bit from the given template. The latter option is, at least the way I was taught, more admirable than the former. In my experience, I have unfortunately discovered that some American public schools prefer to teach the first method (because it is easier), and critical thinking and logic are rarely exercised. And this is not to say that using the second method requires one to be the hypothetical genius "“ it is just a different method that needs to be taught in schools.