Who are you and in which double major are you?
I'm Kayo Yin, Math-CS double major, I was born in Japan but lived in Paris since age 6. Before the Bachelor Program, I went to an English-French bilingual high school in Paris where I obtained my OIB.
Why would you recommend the Bachelor Program?
The first thing I recommend about the Program is the richness of the courses offered. The first year allowed me to discover computer science for the first time and make a well-informed choice between the three double majors after experiencing what each major is like in higher education. The curriculum is very demanding but the hard work pays off, in the end you're endowed with very solid foundations in math which is always useful in any scientific fields, and in a short time you can discover a variety of areas of your double major. I definitely feel I am advantaged in terms of knowledge and skills gained from coursework compared to my friends from high school who pursued similar majors in other universities. I'm not the only one either who felt they could easily keep up with graduate-level courses during our semester abroad in year 3.
Because of the small size of the Program and the high teacher to student ratio, professors and administration are all very accessible and helpful. They are all very accommodating, responsive to our remarks, professors and TAs are always eager to discuss their subject. I easily built good relationships with several professors who wrote me enthusiastic recommendation letters and helped me for graduate admissions, especially my thesis advisor who encouraged me during my research and even helped me publish my paper afterwards.
I also really loved the student life at Polytechnique. I was mainly involved in clubs made by the Cycle Ingénieur students, who are all very friendly and welcoming of Bachelor students (though speaking French is a plus), whenever I wasn't working I was either playing in the orchestra, on the soccer field or learning new dance moves. Also, now there are more and more clubs started by Bachelor students (so French is no longer an issue) and if you can't find the club you like, you're always encouraged to make one!
What would be a great memory of your time in the Program that you would like to share with future students?
So many great memories to choose from! I think the most extravagant memory was the Bal de l'X at Château de Versailles, a traditional annual ball of Polytechnique. That night, we all put our most gorgeous dresses and suits. I spent the first part of the evening singing with the school choir in the magnificent chapel of the Chatêau.
Then, I joined my friends for a tour of the Château accompanied by small musical ensembles, and a great fireworks show at the bassin. The rest of the night, I switched between different rooms to dance the waltz, rock or just party and before I knew it was already 4am. It's definitely a once-in-a-lifetime experience to take part in this night with historical roots in the unique culture of the school, that most French people have heard of.
What would be a piece of advice that you would like to share with future students?
Go out of your way to find clubs and student events you're interested in, it's a great way to meet people with the same interests, develop new skills and take breaks from studying! Finding the right balance between coursework and extracurricular activities is really what helped me make the most of my time at the Program.
Where have you been admitted so far and what do you intend to do after the Program? Any other general comment on the outcomes of the Bachelor Program at this stage?
I applied to several Master programs in CS in the US, and was accepted to all my dream schools (Carnegie Mellon University, Stanford and UC Berkeley) and other prestigious universities (Columbia, UMass Amherst). I intend to attend CMU for the Master in Language Technologies, where I will gain further research experience in Natural Language Processing before aiming for an R&D industry position or a PhD, I haven't made the choice yet. Because of the uncertainty of the COVID-19 situation, I also recently started looking for an internship, at least for the summer, and maybe longer if I'm unable to start my Master's this fall. Within a week I received two internship offers already!
In general, many of us were pretty uncertain about the outcome of this Bachelor Program because of its novelty, but most of my friends received admission to their top choices, whether they aimed for schools in France, the UK or the US, and I am very impressed and proud of us. I think our transcripts reflected well the intensity of our curriculum, my rich experiences helped me write strong statements of purpose, and my professors must have written very enthusiastic recommendations to have convinced the admission committees in all these prestigious schools!