How to choose my university? My 4 criteria as part of Gen Z
Updated: Mar 26
High school is over… and now what? How am I supposed to choose my university? Aaaaaaaaaaahhhhh *mental breakdown and feeling of panic* 😨
If you have been in this situation before you understand me. That moment when you feel like you have whole your future in your hands and you have to make a decision: which criteria to use for the right college for me? How should I choose my university? (or better my future life, that’s what we are really thinking).
As proud member of the Gen Z club, I knew I couldn’t pick the same way the previous generation did. I see the world changing faster than ever, so I had to rethink the role of higher education and how it can be meaningful to me. Are higher education institutions ready for Gen Z? My colleague has already analyzed the situation, so that’s not what I want to talk about, but here’s just a little note.
[Educate] comes from Latin “e-duco”, to bring out, to let emerge. Gen Z doesn’t need acquire as much information as possible: we would never be able to keep up! We need the education, we need to have experiences, do projects and face challenges which will bring out the best of us, occurrences that let our qualities emerge and unleash our potential.
I knew I wanted to go to university, so I came up with my own criteria to choose my college.
Since I’m a very organised person, I had a plan: I had lists of potential institutions, lists with pros and cons, due dates for my final choices, schedules for school visits.... I was ready to choose my university! After all the research, the day trips to visit the schools and plenty of hours of thinking, I arrived at Hotel Institute Montreux on September 30th, 2017.
In the end, how I chose my university came down to 4 different criteria, factors which were very important to me. Here are the criteria for which I came, but most importantly for which I stayed (and not planning to escape any time soon). 😉
1.The person I want to become
One of my biggest concerns of studying in my home country was that I saw many graduates from local universities being lost for quite a while after they had finished up. Some found their passion and pursued it, but too many looked like they hadn’t even figured out their next move yet.
I applied one of my favorite principles: “Begin with the end in mind”; so I started to think of how the graduates from my college should have been: they had to represent the person I want to become.
-- Here I found confident professional and global citizens who live their lives with passion and aren’t afraid to take challenges. --
How? I read success stories, I met the students during Open Days and, as Gen Z always does, I looked up the Hotel Institute Montreux alumni on Social Media. 👀📱
2. The environment and the quality of life
We all have heard that college days are probably the best days of our lives. Is it true? I will have my answer in the years to come. However, university life is a big part of our lives and sometimes we don’t realize how much impact it can have in shaping our personality, so for me the type of life I would experience played a big role in how I would choose my college. Here I have found a great fit: Montreux is a paradise to me. I can take so many walks along the lake, relax or be active through a fresh morning run. There are also lots of events around the area that I like to go check out. It’s all about balance. 🏔🏃♀️
3. The international experience
-- When I was little I told my mom I wanted to travel when I grew up.--
She told me: “Linda, if you want to travel, you need to learn English really well”. So I did. I am extremely grateful for all the opportunities I had to travel abroad, especially longer experiences, such as my High School Exchange Year in the USA and language camps in various countries. Living abroad has made me grow up so much as a person: it has enriched me from a human perspective that I couldn’t have gained in other ways, especially thanks to the connection with people from different countries. This is why, when I had to choose my university, I was sure that I wanted one which provided an international environment. Not only the students come from a variety of countries, but also the staff is quite diverse, and we have the chance to do our internships wherever we want. 🗺
4. The hands-on experience
In an exponentially growing world, where information is much pretty available to anybody, anywhere, what is going to make me stand out from the crowd in the job market? It is not the amount of information I am able to repeat by heart and it’s not even the reputation of the university I choose to go to. It has to be something different.
-- I believe that you can understand something by simply studying it in the books, but you can only actually know it when you try it yourself. --
Just imagine a doctor: would you say he/she knows how to perform a surgery if he/she has only read about it in the books? Probably not. That’s why I wanted to gain some hands-on experience throughout my studies. In addition to the two mandatory internships, where we apply what we learned in the classroom, we also develop soft skills thanks to many projects and initiatives.
For example, one of our latest assignments at Hotel Institute Montreux, was to organize a themed banquet for 80 people! A big challenge, but hey, you can’t imagine how much I’ve learned from it. It wasn’t really about the technical details: it was more about learning how to effectively communicate in a team of 22 people from different cultures and with different ideas, how to handle pressure from different fronts and how to really manage your time by prioritizing, scheduling or delegating, just to mention a few! 🎟🤝
Is it all a piece of cake?
Hahahahaha, you wish.
I didn’t choose the perfect university.
I am often asked to help out during school visits for potential students. All I have to do is to chat with them and answer to questions they might have (and make a pretty smile, of course! We’re in hospitality, after all 😁). You are most likely picturing me in my business uniform, smiling, showing around the school while I say how amazing it is. That’s not how it goes.
Obviously, I have to talk about its many advantages and all the opportunities we get, but I am honest when it comes to saying that no, it is not perfect. Just like any other school, it has its flaws. One of them, for me, is the foreign language courses level: too low. Maybe my keen interest in them has to do with it, but I think we could learn much more.
One of these FAQs during school visits is if I would recommend the school.
-- My answer is always another question. “What is important to you when you choose your university?”. --
For some it is the location, for others the curriculum, for others it’s the reputation. When you know what is truly relevant to you, you have your answer. I chose to study in Switzerland at Hotel Institute Montreux not because it’s the most amazing university in the world, but because it matches my criteria. 📊
And some gut feeling, of course. Nothing is purely rational.
If you are part of Gen Z, did you use my same criteria when choosing your education? And if you are not, how was it different from you?
Let me know how you did it in the comments.
I did it! I finally chose my university. *sigh of relief* 😅
Author: Ms Linda Baggio, Hospitality Bachelor Student at Hotel Institute Montreux (HIM), from Italy.