The application process for a tourism degree can be a complicated and lengthy process, but being accepted by the school of your choice is worth the effort! Undergraduate and graduate degrees share several similarities and differences and the following information can help international students as they start the application process for either of these degrees.
There are several things international students need to be aware of as they begin the application process for a tourism degree. Firstly, most undergraduate tourism schools have similar requirements for their applications; most colleges or universities will require things like specific ACT, SAT, or TOEFL scores, a GPA above 2.0, high school transcripts, etc. within the application. However, some tourism schools may have unique requirements of their applicants. Florida International University, for example, not only requires high school transcripts of international students, but specific financial documents and transcript evaluations by NACES agency as well. Make sure to visit the admissions page of the school's website you are interested in; you can find everything you need to include in the application as an international student.
Whether you are applying to a tourism program or a general college/university, you need to make sure that your essay and application stand out. A school can receive hundreds or thousands of applications and the best way to get noticed is through your essay. International students need to highlight what they will contribute to the campus socially, academically, and culturally in their college application and essay. International students should also emphasize their diverse background and explain why they would like to attend a tourism school in the U.S.A. Another way to make your application stand out is to present yourself as an individual with different interests and hobbies. U.S. colleges are always looking for well-rounded students, not just academic all-stars. Make sure to involve yourself in extracurricular activities such as playing an instrument, sports, or volunteering.
The graduate application process for a tourism degree shares some similarities and differences with an undergraduate degree. Like the undergraduate application, students will need to submit their GPA and TOEFL scores along with a transcript from their college or university. It is likely that you will also be asked to submit an essay or personal statement with your application. You may be asked to write about yourself, or about specific topics. The same principle that was applied to the undergraduate essay can be applied to the graduate essay; make sure to describe how you can benefit from being in the graduate program, and how the program will benefit from having you.
At this point the similarities end between the graduate and undergraduate degree application processes. Depending on your GPA (or grade point average), you may be required to take the GMAT (Graduate Management Admission Test) or GRE (Graduate Record Examination) tests. Also, some graduate degree programs require applicants to have several months or years' worth of experience working or interning in the tourism industry before they can begin to earn their degree. Aside from the tests scores and transcripts you may also need several letters of recommendation from former professors, internship supervisors, or bosses. These letters are very important and sometimes can determine if you are accepted into the graduate program or not.
Another step which differs from the undergraduate application process is the interview. Almost all graduate programs involve an interview with applicants. Schools use this interview process to determine which finalists they think are the best match for their school. During the interview you will most likely be asked to describe yourself, your strengths and weaknesses, why did you choose this career, why did you apply to this program, etc. Remember, although you are the one being interviewed, you can use the opportunity to find out if the school is the right fit for you as well. You can ask about alumni success in the job market, why the graduate program is better than the rest, are there scholarships or financial aid available, etc.
Now that you are familiar with the application process for a tourism degree, it should seem a bit more manageable. For both graduate and undergraduate application processes it is important that international students do sufficient research before submitting everything; you should know what specific test scores and documents are required in the application. For whichever degree you apply for, undergraduate or graduate, make sure to get your application noticed by highlighting why you are the best choice for the program; they need to know why they'd be lucky to have you attend their school!