Questions to Ask on a Campus Visit
With the challenges this pandemic has made in our world, I bet it has also cramped your college search plans. Rather than having freedom to visit whichever campus you want as often as you'd like, you're faced with limited time slots, physical distancing, restricted access to buildings on campus, and in some cases, closed campuses.
If and when you have the opportunity to visit a campus this school year, you need to make the most of it. Talk to a professor in your area of academic interest. Meet with an athletic coach or music director. Discuss financial aid, admissions, and general campus culture with an admissions counselor. Tour the campus with a student tour guide to get a true taste of what that school can offer you.
And while you're exploring all that college has to offer in your jam-packed, fun-filled, information-overloaded visit day, make sure to ask some great questions!
"But which questions are the right questions?"
From my experiences meeting with prospective students and their families, I have identified a few important questions which, I think, expose the true nature of a school and touch on some necessary information to help you narrow your search.
1. "How much will tuition cost?" "Are there hidden fees?" "How do scholarships work?"
Finances are important. You should know that financial aid is determined on a case-by-case basis, and different factors are considered for every applicant. You need to know how your parents' income as well as your GPA, ACT/SAT scores, and extracurricular involvements will impact your financial aid offer. You should figure this out ASAP, as a financial award could be impacted by your performance in those last few semesters of high school (some scholarships literally come down to the GPA decimal). And while discussing finances is often considered taboo in our society, the more information you can give and the more questions you can ask, the better answers colleges can provide so that you'll know if attending a certain college is feasible.
2. "How will my AP/college courses transfer in?" "How long will my program take?" "How will your school help me get a job after I graduate?"
The academic side of the college search can be overwhelming. If you're like many students who have challenged themselves with higher-level courses throughout high school, you're probably anxious to know whether you will get credit for those courses. As an admissions counselor, it is hard for me to give you an answer upfront about your previous college credits, but if you can provide an unofficial transcript, we can ask the Registrar's Office to look it over and determine your status.
If you know what major/ career you'd like to pursue, you should speak to a faculty member if possible. If you only plan to start your career immediately after graduating with your bachelor's degree, what help does the college provide you in getting internships/ landing your first job as a college grad? If graduate school is in the cards for you, what kind of guidance can you expect? These are all valid questions!
3. "What sets this school apart from similar schools?" "What is this school known for?" "What's the absolute BEST part of going to this college?"
Before you attend your visits, it's important for you to identify what factors are most important to you in a college. From there, it's best to ask consistent questions across all of your college visits so you get a clear point of comparison.
For example, if you're interested in pursuing a degree or participating in music, you'll want to ask consistent questions about the music programs. Or, maybe co-curricular opportunities are most important to you, or you're considering global studies, or want to join student organizations. Knowing what questions you want to ask in advance will help you get the answers you need to help with your decision.
4."Besides academic programs, what can students do?" "What is the general campus atmosphere?" "What kinds of students go here?" "What is the city like?"
When considering your future school, it's possible that you've primarily looked at academic programs. It's obviously important to know if a school offers courses that reflect your interests, but recognize that whichever college you choose will be your future home, and it's imperative that you choose a place in which you feel comfortable. Grill your admissions counselor and current students to figure out what campus life is really like. Are there things to do? Does the night life mesh with yours? Don't be afraid to ask; this is a huge life decision.
Visiting colleges is both exciting and nerve-racking. Keep in mind that in Admissions, counselors want you to feel comfortable and we'll do all we can to help you with this choice. There are no stupid questions, and you're never bothering us. We're here to help!