7 Questions to Ask on a College Visit
By Mary Kate Hampton
Back when I was an undergrad, I worked an on-campus job at the university Writing Center. My roommate worked a more lucrative off-campus job as a babysitter. One day, during a babysitting stint, my roommate brought her young client to campus. As we walked around the student center with this cute little kindergartener, we asked her, “Do you think you want to go to this school?” She was contemplative before answering. Finally, she said, “Maybe. I need to try the French fries first.”
She wasn’t wrong. Four years is a big commitment, and you want to be sure you’re well fed as well as well educated, supported, entertained, and connected, among other things.
There are so many things to consider when you’re getting serious about attending a particular college. (And sometimes, food can be a deal maker or breaker!) It’s a great idea to get on campus when students are there, when the campus is bustling and classes are in full swing. Even summertime can be a great time to get your feet walking around the grounds of a school, getting a feel for the surroundings and environment. If you’re planning a few college visits in the future, read on for 7 questions to ask on a college visit.
Get into academics.
1.) What is your perspective on different majors on campus? Learning about some of the most popular majors on campus as well as some of the most challenging majors on campus can give some perspective on the academic culture of the school. Whether you’re committed to a certain field of study or you’re undecided, it can be eye-opening to learn some opinions on the reputation of certain majors on campus. Is your dream school known as a great engineering school, or is it more of a small liberal arts college?
2.) Can you tell me about any favorite or well-known professors on campus? In my major, there were many professors with big personalities. One professor—known affectionately only as Doc—taught semesters full of novels and poetry and celebrated in class with end-of-semester parties. If you earned an A, he would write a compliment-laden letter home to your parents. Another professor was known to give only B+ grades—nothing higher. Some of your future professors might help pave pathways to research and career opportunities. Ask around—students, tour guides, staff—on campus to learn about some of the professors that might one day be your mentors and guides.
Student life is quintessential.
3.) What are some of the most popular on-campus activities and off-campus activities? Maybe you want to wake up on Saturday mornings in the fall and paint yourself in school colors to support your football team. Or, perhaps, you will want to take a train off campus on a Sunday to get a coffee and hit a museum in a neighboring city. Do you want a party school, or are you there to simply study? Do you want to be a part of Greek life, or would you rather play intramural sports? Do you want a school with ALL of these things? It’s a great idea to suss out student life. But before you set foot on campus, consider what kinds of aspects of student life you want for yourself. This can help to make your questions more targeted for your ideal situation.
Safety is key.
4.) How safe is campus? While parents might typically be the ones to ask this question, safety is truly an important thing for all students to consider. Is there a public safety team in place on campus? What about the surrounding areas off campus—can you venture out safely? Getting an idea of crime statistics and concerns can only help to prepare you for life as an adult, living in a new place.
Transportation is crucial.
5.) How easy is it to get around? Can freshmen have cars? Do most students need cars? Is there local public transportation that students can navigate to neighboring cities or towns? Technically, this is a handful of questions about campus transportation, but it’s good to know what your options are when it comes to finding your way around campus and around your college town.
Focus on the future.
6.) What are the career services offered by the college? While four years may seem like a long time, it’s wise to place some importance on the direction that you are headed while you’re a college student. When you’re an underclassman, will you have access to resources for internships during the school year or summer? Can the career center help you to make connections? Knowing the best steps to take to get a job after college is key, and a good on-campus career center can help with that.
7.) Do you like it here? This seems like a silly one, as most campus tour reps lead campus visits purely out of their love for the institution. However, asking some pointed questions about a guide’s personal pros and cons can help you to get a good idea of current campus life.
More than anything, it’s important to ask questions on a college visit that are specific to your goals and interests. Figure out if a school is a good fit by really getting a feel for campus life. (And don’t forget to eat in the dining hall—see if they have good fries.)
Do you need help finding the best fit schools for you? College Ready has consultants who are trained to help students create a balanced and tailored college list. Reach out to College Ready to schedule a free discovery call and learn more.