Why choose the NSI specialty in high school?

The digital and computer science specialty is both one of the least followed in high school, and one of the most abandoned between the first and the final year. However, it makes it possible to move towards different digital training courses with a promising future.

The NSI specialty (digital and computer science) is not the most popular in general high school. However, it opens doors to promising paths.

On June 7, 2022, around fifteen digital, higher education, research and guidance organizations launched the first edition of the national day “Digital and Computer Science”. In addition to making the specialty known to high school students, this day aimed to promote the diversity of professions and career projects in a buoyant sector.

The NSI specialty meets a need

The need for IT in the labor market is indeed colossal, according to guidance expert Valérie Deflandre. “It’s a sector where a lot of offers flourish and in which one can completely flourish”, notes the guidance counselor of the CIDJ (youth information and documentation center).

Wider, IT, as a whole, allows flexibility in terms of outlets : IT specialists are now in demand in all areas, from industry to communication and even the health sector.

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A specialty little followed and very abandoned

The NSI specialty is however one of the least followed: 37,000 first year students in 2021-2022, according to Depp, the statistics service of the Ministry of National Education. Seven times less than in math, and five times less than in physics and chemistry. Before the end of the year, students are led to select the two specialties they prefer to keep, and this choice is often made by elimination. The NSI is one of the most abandoned specialties, left aside by more than 50% of the students.

The notion of novelty would be one of the reasons justifying the abandonment rate. “We are a bit in the unknown and when a student tries to choose, he takes reference from his friends and his parents, who do not necessarily have a clear vision of the sector”, deplores Charles Poulmaire, professor of NSI.

However, the president of the AEIF (association of teachers of computer science in France) specifies that the specialty must simply be anchored among the panoply of specialties offered. In this sense, he underlines the importance of actions and initiatives such as the national day NSI. “This is a day that allowed high school and even college students to meet researchers, professors and computer experts, he explains. It was an opportunity to bring together different players from the IT world.”

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A specialty complementary to math

Often opposed to the royal math-physics combination, the NSI is therefore struggling to find its place. “If you only want to do scientific studies, you absolutely have to keep mathematics, but there is no opposition to be expressed between the two specialties”, maintains the NSI professor.

For Valerie Deflandre, the NSI is even a great opportunity for all those who have a low level in mathematics and who are still interested in computer science : “Of course, it can close some doors, but it opens even more in the IT sector.”

Opportunities after the NSI specialty

The new MP2I preparatory class (mathematics, physics, engineering and computer science) is one of the logical paths to follow after the NSI specialty. “But there are also other possibilities!” emphasizes Charles Poulmaire. University training, in engineering school, in BUT, in BTS or in other scientific preparatory courses… The paths to follow to access the world of IT are very diversified.

Valérie Deflandre, meanwhile, specifies that the MP2I preparation is open to all, and if “it emphasizes computer and digital sciences, being from an NSI specialty is not an obligation”.

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Far fewer girls in NSI

But the Depp also points to another bias associated with the NSI specialty: it only has 18.5% of girls in first, and 13.7% in terminal.

On this question, Charles Poulmaire points the finger a phenomenon of society based on gender stereotypes. “Young men have propelled themselves into the field more quickly, he observes. And if there are more and more women engineers, there are always fewer working in IT.”

To fight against this trend, the AEIF initiates many actions, especially during the national day, where interventions were dedicated to women researchers in computer science, in order to create a model of identification among young high school girls. “We must not forget that the very first computer program in history was created by a woman, Ada de Lovelace”, illustrates the teacher of NSI.

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Why choose the NSI specialty in high school?

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