Storming the ivory tower requires patience, confidence and a little help from someone who has already done it.
The university admission process in Switzerland is much simpler and easier than in India. There are very clear and straightforward procedures. Most importantly, except for a very few courses, there is no upper limit on the number of students that can be admitted to a programme. Even if there are 500 students who meet the minimum admission criteria, they’ll admit all of them. For example, over 700 people enroll for the bachelor’s programme in law at the University of Zurich every year. So, do not hesitate to apply to a programme on this count.
Should you apply straight away?
I would in principle suggest that you communicate with the person in charge of the course before sending an application. Most courses have a specific contact person whom you can approach with your questions. This helps a lot. First, you have an individual consultation with the course director or the secretary and that helps in gauging your chances of admission. You also get an idea of how difficult the programme would be for you and alignment of interests. It is worth the effort as some universities also charge an application fee of CHF200 or more. Hence, it is better to ascertain your chances instead of paying the application fee and getting rejected. Below is the admission policy of the University of Zurich.
What is really being assessed in the interview process?
I am sure an academic interview would be an alien process for most of us. Even though I have attended job interviews, I had no clue about what to expect from an academic interview. In hindsight I can confidently say that there is no need to panic. In most cases it involves a Skype interview with the head or co-head of the programme.
They start by introducing themselves and then explain the programme. After this, you are given time to introduce yourself and talk about your interests. Both of you will discuss the alignment of interests. Only when the professor doubts your understanding of the subject, will you be asked some academic questions. At the end of the interview, feedback is given and they say whether you would be admitted conditionally or unconditionally.
How did the academic interview go for me? I didn’t know the answers to most of the questions that were asked. The professor asked if I would be comfortable studying with students who are more advanced in the course subjects. I confidently replied that I would do what it takes to match my peers. Eventually, I ended up getting a conditional offer!
For more blog posts and information on studying in Switzerland visit our dedicated page Education Swiss Madeexternal link.