Since college is such a major investment, you will probably want to visit campuses you are considering attending. Every campus has a visitation program complete with campus tours, visits to financial aid offices, and discussions with admissions counselors. Each of these is meant to impress you and as such may not be that helpful in finding out about the real situation on the campus.
Outlined below are specific questions you might want to ask during your campus visit:
1. Based upon my test scores and high school grades, where would I rank in the incoming freshman class? You want to find out in advance whether you are a good fit for this university.
2. What is the academic status of professors in classes I would likely by taking my first semester? You want to know whether you will have permanent faculty or graduate students or contract faculty.
3. Who will be my advisor? You will want to know whether your advisor will be someone who cares about your success. Ask these follow up questions:
• How many other students are assigned to my advisor?
• How much experience does my advisor have as an advisor?
4. What have been the annual tuition increases for the past four years? You want to have some idea of how to estimate your total college expenses.
5. What is the percentage of freshman who return as sophomores in my desired major?
6. What is the average length of time to graduate for students in my desired major?
7. What are the residence hall options?
• Are there residence halls for specific majors?
• Are there learning centers in residence halls with tutoring?
• Are there residence hall options for serious students?
8. What percent of graduating seniors have a job in their major within 6 months of graduation?
Of course, you will have other questions you want to ask. When you ask these questions, observe the responses you get:
• How specific were the responses? These are questions that universities should be able to answer; maybe the university doesn’t focus on the issue you are concerned about.
• If a specific was not given, did they volunteer to find an answer for you? Again this will tell you how the university respects the issues that concern you.
Finally, be wary of the “canned” spiel. Universities are great at spinning information. Ask the questions you are interested in and don’t just rely upon the propaganda from the university spokesperson..