Are you planning to study hotel management…or perhaps hospitality, tourism, business or a mix of one or more of these fields ?
With the myriad of choices out there, it is very easy to get lost or sidetracked into choosing the wrong institution. After all, education is big business these days…and hotel school marketers will go to great lengths to paint a rosy picture of their school and facilities.
When running a search on the internet for hotel and hospitality schools, one is presented with hundreds of options and adverts…breaking through the clutter can be quite difficult. Here are a few tips on some of the basics to look for when choosing a good hotel or tourism school:
1. Is the School recognized by official bodies?
It is vital that the hotel, hospitality or tourism school that you choose is recognized and accredited by the appropriate government bodies. This guarantees better recognition of your qualifications once you graduate. The best way to find out about this, especially in foreign markets is to check with the school directly on federal and local accreditations or run a search for official hotel school associations. A classic example is Switzerland, which is home to many hotel schools, but only a handful really measure up. For statistics on Swiss Hotel Schools, try the Swiss Hotel Schools Association
2. Course Levels and Options
Again, a keystone to your decision…what sort of options do you have for study? Are you interested in a Degree, Diploma, Professional Certification or just specialized, short-term courses? Not all schools have the same strengths when it comes to differing course options, therefore it is important to choose the institution with known prowess in the qualification levels you’re interested in. Time is also a crucial factor – degree studies can take from 3 to 4 years, diplomas upto 3 years and certifications from a few months to a year or more. It is important not to choose shorter courses, e.g. a Bachelors of Science in Hotel Management in 2 years, when this is not the standard…unless you’ve taken a closer look at the course structure and strength.
Speaking from experience, you’d be better off choosing the longer course – it usually pays off by giving you a better, stronger academic base to start with. If you are planning to study abroad, also check if the English language curriculum is well established and is not something that was recently conceived from another language.
3. Recognition by the market and peers
While goodwill may not be a tangible asset, it does add value to the balance sheet…and so will graduating from a well-recognized university or school. You may not have the budget to go to Cornell or the Ecole hôtelière de Lausanne, but do try and ask around (perhaps a friend or relative who has studied hospitality or works in the hotel / tourism industry) and see what names come up more often than others.
The School or University you choose can really help you network, raise your ‘value’ and find jobs and options for further studies if they have strong affiliations with other companies in and outside the industry. A classic example is a hotel school partly or fully owned by a tourism company, which also owns hotels, restaurants and other businesses. Your chances of finding a good job placement with this school is definitely enhanced due to the schools strong affiliations.
5. Student Strength and Diversity
Most hotel and hospitality schools proudly advertise the fact that they feature students and alumni from all over the world. Try and find out the exact figures, though. Check how many international students are enrolled on current courses that you’re interested in…being in an international crowd will not only make learning fun, but also give you a superb network that will most likely last a lifetime.
The hospitality industry is all about people, and studying with the best from diverse backgrounds will foster your creativity and inter-personal skills. Also important to check is the total number of students in the school or university, and how many students are included in each class / batch. There is a big difference in learning in a class comprised of 20 or 50 students!
6. Staff / Teacher / Educator Strength and Competency
This is probably the hardest thing to check before you enroll on a course or join a school…but can also be one of the most crucial. You need to know the quality of the product you are paying for…after all, good hospitality education doesn’t come cheap these days, with costs running to $25,000 per semester (or more) in some schools.
There are important questions to be asked – is the educator strength sufficient for the number of students in the school, are the teachers specialists in their field with relevant industry experience, are the teachers from diverse backgrounds, etc. Being taught by a strong educator with 20 years experience in the industry vs. someone who’s just graduated, with absolutely no experience (and it hurts to say this, but was probably hired by the school because he/she represented a cost savings on payroll) is an experience that is poles apart. Read more…