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Laying the Groundwork for the Future

Through the Graduate Student-at-Large program, a student prepared himself for a career in international law and economics.

Written by Philip Baker
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Hear from a student, originally from France, who traveled to Chicago to take classes through the University of Chicago’s GSAL program and discovered not just a great way to prepare himself for graduate school but also a fantastic introduction to American culture as a whole.

Never having traveled to the United States before, Augustin Chapuis-Doppler flew from Paris to Chicago in the spring of 2016 to take three classes at the University of Chicago through the Graduate Student-at-Large (GSAL) program. “A professor of mine back in France had studied at the University of Chicago and he knew about the GSAL program,” Augustin says. “He saw it as the perfect way for me to take classes here and expose myself to some things that aren’t really so developed in France yet. It’s amazing that one can take any class they desire,” he adds.

An Ideal Place to Learn

That Augustin recently finished his business degree in France and is mostly through with his law degree testifies to the still undefined, cross-disciplinary area his life seems to be homing in on. That area, commonly referred to as Law and Economics, treats the border space where government regulation meets business practice. “It’s also where laws can potentially be refined by the actual economic behaviors of individuals,” he points out. “It’s a field much more advanced in the United States than it is in Europe right now—and it’s particularly strong at the University of Chicago."

Building a Stronger Application

Augustin says that the classes he took at the Law School and at Booth prepared him for his future in any number of ways. In particular, he mentions the boost the classes will give his application to LLM programs in the United States. Anticipating a future working internationally, Augustin says that LLM programs are critical to giving students who might not have grown up in the United States an in-depth sense for how American law works and the culture in which those laws play out. This latter, he emphasizes, can be especially important. With much of international business culture oriented around American-style practices, having a fluent sense for American customs and attitudes is becoming increasingly important.

Revelation of the Socratic Method

Augustin says that taking classes at the University of Chicago proved particularly revelatory and helpful in this regard, mentioning the discussion-based Socratic method of the UChicago classrooms as illuminating not just of the course’s subject matter, but of people’s personalities and the variety of interesting perspectives people bring to the table as well.“We just don’t have that in France,” he says. “Professors lecture and only rarely engage students directly—in or out of the classroom. For me,” he adds, “it was doubly beneficial, because it not only exposed me to a critical aspect of American culture, which will be important down the road, but also it pushed me into situations where I had to use the English language in ways I never had before. It was a tremendous learning experience for me and has allowed my confidence to grow in any number of ways.”

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