By Meloney Brazzola, Ecole hôtelière de Lausanne
Want to study abroad but are intimidated by the admissions process? Don’t be. With a little organization and preparation, you can be successful in being admitted to an international program of study. Here’s how:
1. Do your research
Start by identifying what you want to study and where. Ask yourself: what is an area of study I’m passionate about? Which schools offer this kind of program? Where are these schools located? Do I want to live in that area during my studies?
Research study options in your chosen field online and make a list of the most attractive universities to you based on their program offerings, faculty, student life offering, location and entrance requirements. It is always worth visiting your short-listed universities to get an idea of what the campus and atmosphere is like. While it may not be practical to travel to each campus, many offer virtual tours on their websites.
You also may be able to find out whether there are alumni from the school who live in your area. Reach out to them to find out more about the school. Most alumni are happy to assist and provide information that will help your choice. Remember to be respectful of their time and thank them if they do spend time with you.
2. Get organized
Once you have your short list of schools, take a blank calendar and map out when applications, essays, recommendations, interviews, financial aid documents, test results and visa applications are due. From these deadlines you can work backwards to break the process down into manageable steps. Using a calendar will keep you on track and ensure you get all the steps done.
Most schools have an online application process. These can be processed quickly and may have built-in checks to ensure all materials are included but they also require some upfront planning to have everything at hand when you start to complete each application.
It is generally worth applying to several institutions so you have at least one back-up choice.
3. Show the real you in your essay
If an essay is required, it’s important that you take some time and give real thought to writing it. Be authentic and show your human side. Pick a topic that inspires you and that will give the school an idea of who you are. School applications really are about fit, so remain genuine to who you are by using your own voice to reflect what you are passionate about. Make sure you write your essays yourself and then ask a parent, teacher, counselor, or friend to proofread them.
4. Prepare for your interview
Some competitive schools require a personal interview. This is a chance to talk about your motivations for applying to the school. Even if your interview is done remotely or virtually, it’s a chance for you also to gauge whether the school will be a good match for you.
Prepare by reading about the school and having some questions to ask during the conversation. Approach each question as an opportunity to tell your story, elaborate with concrete examples, ask questions and engage with your interviewers. This is your chance to put forward your ideas and let your character shine through.
While your academic record of achievement and test scores form an important part of your application, you should also be sure to talk about your extracurriculars. Let the interviewer know about activities you’re involved in within your community, or about sports, hobbies, clubs, or other areas of interest that show how you contribute beyond your academics. You don’t have to be president of the club to impress the interviewer, but do talk about how you contribute to others around you.
Try to be relaxed and personable, but also be sure to look your best and remain professional, as this is an opportunity to make a good impression.
5. Choose your recommendations wisely
Some programs require recommendations. These will show a great deal about your intellect and character, the way you think and learn and contribute to a classroom or school community dynamic. They should be written by someone who knows you and is familiar with your work, in order to showcase your achievements and potential.
6. Complete your applications!
Using your calendar to guide you, complete each application on or before the deadline. Make sure you tailor your application to each university, rather than copying and pasting each section. Pay attention to any special requirements, as applications do vary by school.
Real Case Study:
Interview with Sam Wich, a final-year Bachelor student at Ecole hôtelière de Lausanne (EHL), in Switzerland, a university of applied sciences in hospitality management.
Q: Why did you choose to study hospitality management?
A: I started my selection process by creating a list. Without concentrating on any specific field, I wrote down what topics I am most interested in and what a potential study program had to provide. For instance, it was important to me that my studies would give me the possibility to work in an international environment and open pathways to a career that could take me outside of my home country. I also wanted to work in a challenging industry which has large growth potential for me to start a promising career. Moreover, it was crucial that I get to interact with a lot of interesting people on a regular basis.
After I had the complete list, I weighed them according to importance and that’s when I started looking at specific programs. In the end, this analysis led to the conclusion that studying Hospitality Management was the perfect fit for me.
Q: How did you select the university?
Once I had identified my preferred field, I put a lot of effort into researching the various programs that schools in Switzerland and abroad offered. I looked at university rankings, read through online student forums, asked friends, colleagues and family members about their opinion and, most importantly, read the program brochures I found on university websites. This extensive research gave me a good picture of my choices.
Q: Why did you choose EHL (Ecole hôtelière de Lausanne)?
A: During my research of different universities, EHL got to the top of the list very quickly. It offers a very comprehensive program that combines the practical skills required in the industry with an outstanding academic education. I was sure that this is where I could acquire all the essential skills to succeed not only in hospitality but in any business environment. EHL enjoys an excellent reputation with employers and I was very intrigued by the prospect of becoming part of the university’s Alumni network. This network grants access to a pool of more than 25,000 professionals located all over the world. During my visit on campus during an “Open Day”, I was highly impressed by the modern infrastructure and the countless activities that the different student committees offered.
Q: Why did you choose to study in Switzerland?
Switzerland is home to some of the best universities worldwide. Just this year, it was again named the most innovative country on earth. The Swiss values of reliability, diversity and precision create an ideal environment to start your career. In addition to its renowned academic institutions, Switzerland also offers a beautiful scenic landscape, historic cities and of course amazing food. Once you have tasted a cheese fondue while looking at the sunset over Lake Leman, there will be no other place where you would rather spend the best three years of your life.
Ecole hôtelière de Lausanne (EHL) is an ambassador for traditional Swiss hospitality and has been a pioneer in hospitality education since 1893. It has created and inspired a unique professional community of over 25,000 hospitality managers, united by the values and the legacy of EHL.