How to get a degree from a top Singaporean university

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Yik Xin Choo is a recipient of a scholarship for a top university in Singapore. Source: EHL Hospitality Business School

You don’t have to be crazy rich to join a university in Singapore. Just ask Yik Xin Choo.

She is the recipient of the Singapore Young Leaders Scholarship Award from EHL Hospitality Business School. The school is part of EHL, a well-known hospitality school with three campuses in Switzerland. The Singaporean campus offers a Bachelor in International Hospitality Management programme, as well as a selection of short courses.

For Choo, studying here has been more than just a degree-earning venture. She’s spent a month in Geneva, won an SDG Impact Accelerator award and found a new family in her coursemates and faculty members.

All for less than 100 Singaporean dollars a week. As a Singaporean living in her parent’s home, she doesn’t need to pay rent (in a city where prices have skyrocketed the most, tying with New York) and meals on campus are free, as is a gym membership. The scholarship covers half of her mandatory tuition fees.

But there are some things that are priceless. “The campus is easily my second home. My parents sometimes joke that I’m more at school than home, as I love being on campus,” says Choo.

“The support system I’ve found around me through my classmates, school friends and the staff/faculty team has enabled me to strive for my best.

We caught up with Choo to learn more about her scholarship and her journey at one of Singapore’s universities:

1. What motivated you to join EHL and apply for its scholarship?

I’ve been working part-time in the hospitality industry since I was 15, alongside studying for my diploma in Hospitality and Tourism Management at Nanyang Polytechnic. Hence, a bachelor’s in the world’s best hospitality school was an obvious choice.

I honestly never believed I would have the opportunity to be admitted, let alone be awarded a scholarship from EHL. But when I decided to go to a university in Singapore, I knew I wouldn’t settle for anything else, so I kept updated with the EHL community and social media pages.

That was when I learned about the EHL Singapore Young Leaders Award Scholarship, which I was thankfully able to apply for as a Singaporean.

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Choo never thought she would be admitted into this university in Singapore. Source: EHL Hospitality Business School

2. How did you prepare for the scholarship application and process?

It was much more tedious than it seemed. Many documents were required to be submitted, and there was a struggle getting some of them as I needed to go into my parents’ tax documents, request recommendation letters and retrieve my past grades.

Thankfully, my admissions officer Grace Lee contacted me before I applied for EHL Hospitality Business School, and we stayed in contact throughout the general admissions and the scholarship application process.

The support system I had with EHL staff, even before my admissions, kept me motivated throughout my extra three rounds of online interviews for the scholarship (on top of the two interviews I had to attend as part of the general admissions process)

3. What are the expectations of a scholarship holder?

As a scholarship holder, I gained the status of Student Ambassador for the EHL Singapore campus. This meant I had to keep my grades up whilst contributing holistically to the university through helping with events, conducting Motivation Day interviews (for potential students’ admissions) and representing the school.

Some events I am required to help with are Motivation Days (selection day and interviews for potential students), Open Days (for the public to visit the campus) and campus tours when we have guests over.

I am also expected to conduct interviews for future students alongside faculty and staff from Singapore and Lausanne campuses.

As a student ambassador, I assist the Industry Relations team in EHL Singapore, helping with general tasks like connecting with partners or at events with alums or industry partners.

4. Describe your life at EHL and the highlights of your education at this university in Singapore.

The campus is easily my second home. My parents sometimes joke that I’m more at school than home, as I love being on campus.

The support system I’ve found around me through my classmates, school friends and the staff/faculty team has enabled me to strive for my best.

One of the EHL values we uphold on all campuses is family and this is exceptionally significant for me as I was thankful to have found a “family” in my educational journey.

Regardless of status or achievements, the faculty/staff are always ready to assist with problems, be it personal (like job applications) or academic.

My highlights would be the memories I’ve made with my classmates and the numerous opportunities presented to everyone, from everyone (staff, faculty, directors or even alums!)

Visitors gather in front of the Marina Bay Sands hotel and resort building in Singapore on July 27, 2022. Source: Roslan Rahman/AFP

5. How have you managed to translate your EHL education into the professional world?

We don’t just learn about hospitality fundamentals or general business modules at EHL. EHL prepares everyone to be generalists, with the opportunity to be specialists if they wish.

This means that besides our Financial Accounting or Revenue Management courses, we have mandatory classes in Computational Thinking, where we learn coding and Python or Food and Beverage Cost Control and Legal Challenges of a Hospitality Manager (essential law).

The EHL education also ensures you have strong soft skills, through mandatory teamwork, its diverse student population (more than 120 nationalities amongst 3,700 students) and regular networking sessions with industry leaders.

Armed with technical knowledge and soft skills, I always feel confident and self-assured stepping into a job interview or representing the school globally.

6. What is the detailed breakdown of the scholarship coverage?

The scholarship mainly covers 50% of mandatory tuition fees and is applicable for Singaporeans opting to study in the Singapore campus on a need and merit basis.

For non-Singaporeans looking to learn in Singapore, EHL offers the Diversity & Inclusivity Scholarship, which covers 30% of mandatory tuition fees.

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A vendor prepares a plate of chicken rice at a hawker centre in Singapore on May 31, 2022. Source: Roslan Rahman/AFP

7. How much do you spend in a week?

On campus, a light breakfast and lunch are provided every weekday, this ranges from the classic Singaporean congee or laksa to scrambled eggs and turkey bacon.

It’s different from the Swiss campuses as we do not have stipulated F&B cards where we have to top up money onto the cards and pay for individual items.

As I’m always in the university hanging out with my friends and attending lectures, I only spend money on dinner.

Our tuition comes with a gym membership, so I spend some evenings on the treadmill or attending yoga classes.

I’m also fortunate to be a Singaporean, so I never have to spend on rent as I live with my family. In Singapore, there are affordable dining options and expensive gourmet experiences.

Most meals in Singapore cost about 4 to 20 Singaporean dollars, so I’m never too worried about going above SG$100 a week.

8. What has been the most emotional part of your EHL journey?

The exams period. Being in a leading university in Singapore, the weeks leading up to the exams will have the campus constantly filled with people studying and rushing out notes.

For me, this is the most emotional part as there’s the ongoing pressure from myself to excel, wanting to make my lecturers proud and the empathy from your classmates who willingly share their notes and tutor you through problems.

I also get a crazy amount of support from my family, who ensure I always come home to a steaming bowl of soup even though I have to leave at 7 a.m. for classes and only arrive home at 10 p.m. after studying.

The emotional gratitude makes me thankful to be in such a welcoming space both on campus and at home.