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Hilton College offers real world experience to students

The Hilton College attracts students from around the globe to study at the University of Houston. | File photo/The Cougar

The Hilton College attracts students from around the globe to study at the University of Houston. | File photo/The Cougar

The Conrad N. Hilton College of Hotel and Restaurant Management provides students the unique opportunity to study hospitality in a facility also functioning as a full-service hotel, the only program of its kind in the world.

Recognized as the most diverse hospitality program in the world, the Hilton College attracts students from around the globe to study at the University with its unique offerings.

“I am beyond happy that I moved down to Houston for the Hilton College, and I would not change that decision I made,” said international student and hotel and restaurant management senior Ailin Fei. “It was the best thing that happened to me.”

Fei applied to the University because of the courses offered by the Hilton College. While students come from around the world, the undergraduate program remains small, with only 874 undergraduate students.

“We want to be small enough so that we can really watch our students and take care of them,” said Dean of the Hilton College Dennis Reynolds. “Literally if you miss class for a week or two, your advisers are on the phone (asking) ‘Are you okay?’ ”

During his time as dean, Reynolds has worked on improving the Hilton College’s financials. In his dean’s report he touted that the Hilton College finished Fiscal Year 2019 without acquiring any debt. Changes are not only reflected in the performance of the program, but in the students as well.

“Our undergraduates are driven, and that’s been a shift too,” Reynolds said. “Twenty years ago, the typical undergraduate would want to be the manager of a big hotel. Now, they come in here wanting to own a chain of hotels.”

The Hilton College has a variety of degree plans that students can use to tailor their education to what best fits the career they are pursuing.

The B.S./M.S. plan is an option for students to receive their Bachelor of Science and Master of Science in five years, while the Dual M.S./MBA program allows students to earn their M.S. and MBA with the Hilton College and the C.T. Bauer College of Business at the same time.

There’s also a global masters where students spend a semester in Switzerland, a semester in Hong Kong and a semester in Houston.

“(It) is unlike anything out there,” Reynolds said.

The unconventional structure of the Hilton College operating as a degree program and a hotel provides an opportunity in a career path where specialized colleges are already scarce and difficult to come by.

“We are one of eight independent hospitality colleges left in North America, which is a great place to be from a competitive standpoint,” Reynolds said.

Students have the opportunity to be able to reach out to each other through the smaller size of the program, relate and learn from each other.

“After talking to a current sophomore who graduated before me and came to the program, he told me about what the atmosphere was like and how amazing the program was, so that kind of got my foot in the door,” said hotel and restaurant management freshman Kevin Melgar. “My favorite thing about HRM is meeting new people and getting to talk to others about a common interest.”

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