As a current college junior, I can confidently tell any prospective college student that, despite the late nights, despite the loans, and despite the relationship drama, college is a fantastic life choice, both for your educational and personal development. And now that you’re growing up, you’re going to have a lot of freedom (and responsibility) to choose which college is the best for you and what you want to end up doing in the real world. Needless to say, such a big decision shouldn’t be made blindly, and with a little prep work, you won’t be walking away from that campus without having done your research. And without further ado, here are ten questions to ask when going on college tours.
1. What is the most popular major here?
Fortunately, with today’s university system, whatever college you look at will likely carry your intended major, or at least something close to it. Heck, some students even go in undeclared so that they can really sediment their interests while being away from home and hit the nail on the head when it’s time to choose a career path for them. But it never hurts to ask what the most popular major or majors are at whatever school you’re visiting, as whatever students study is likely to influence a lot of campus culture. For example, you may be interested in majoring in English, but a good number of students at the school you’re looking at are film majors. You may end up helping write a script for them at some point, or even being an extra on one of their student projects. Make sure that wherever you end up is conducive to your passions and beliefs, and that should there be a culture clash due to courses of study, you’ll be able to handle it.
2. What is the general student-to-professor ratio?
This one may seem a little boring, but being aware of class sizes is crucial in choosing a school. Firstly, you’ve got to know yourself. Do you like being singled out in class and having close-knit relationships with your classmates, or would you rather attend classes in big lecture halls, making friends with the people around you in between learning about American history? If the tour guide says something like 15:1, that means that there are about fifteen students to every professor, making class sizes rather small. If they say 60:1, then the classes are much bigger. Make sure that you know how you learn best and find a school that can accommodate that!
3. What is the minimum SAT/ACT score required for admittance?
If your parent is anything like mine, they’ve looked up this answer on the university’s website months before you were even scheduled to take this tour. But it never hurts to get a concrete answer from someone who’s been accepted there themselves! Maybe your tour guide didn’t score too well on the ACT but had a convincing application essay. It happens! No matter what, make sure you’re prepared and don’t be ashamed to retake the SAT or ACT if you feel it’ll increase your chances of getting into your school of choice.
4. Do most students here end up staying in the area upon graduating?
This question is worth asking, especially if you’re from another state. Maybe you want to study for four years at UCLA but see yourself returning home to Indiana after you get your diploma. Maybe you’ll become a Cali native for life! Of course, plans change, and college is a time where you’ll be discovering aspects of yourself that you never even knew of before, so where you end up living will remain up in the air for quite some time. But by asking how many students stick around, you’ll be able to get a realistic grasp on what life is like after leaving college.
5. What’s the housing like here?
You may have been dreaming of living in a dorm since you were seven. Or maybe you live close enough to the college that housing just isn’t worth it and you’d like to commute while living at home. It’s incredibly helpful to know what percentage of students do what and to later work out a realistic living situation for yourself. You may even get a little inside knowledge about a few apartments within walking distance from campus that prove more affordable (and a lot nicer) then the campus dorms. Who knows?
6. What are the best things to do around here?
This is a much more polite way of saying, “What do students do around here when they get bored?”. By finding out what’s unique to the particular city your college is located in, as well as activities available on campus, you’ll be getting a more holistic perspective of what your free time (however little of it there may be) will be like during your stay there (should you choose to attend). You can even ask about student life in general, whether there are lots of parties during the weekends or whether people prefer to take day trips to the beach or the mountains. It helps to be in the know!
7. What jobs are typically available on and around campus?
Even if you’ve got a generous pair of parents who are willing to supply you with the means necessary to keep you from starving, having a part-time job or internship when you can manage one looks great on your resumé and will give you the real-life experience you need to go out into society. Plus, it always feels great to make your own spending cash!
8. How do students typically deal with tuition payments here?
This question isn’t a lot of fun to ask, but trust me, you will thank your lucky stars for asking it before making a four-year commitment spending thousands of dollars on an education. Ask how students cope with payments, if and how loan payments typically pan out after school, and what scholarships and grants the school offers. College should be an investment, not a gamble!
9. How has your experience been here?
Chances are, your tour guide will be flattered if you ask them to share their personal experience at the college you’re looking at. And hearing it from a current student will be so much more authentic than a blurb from a beaming grad on the college’s pamphlet.
10. Is there anything you wish you knew before coming here?
There will always be someone more experienced than you, and by asking them if they wish they had known anything before coming to this college, you’ll be better equipped to have the best college experience possible, and then one day pass on what you know to prospective students.
I wish you the best of luck on your college search. Are you planning on checking out any schools soon? Tell us in the comments below!
featured image source: https://unsplash.com/photos/ScWvHUtQca4
Anna Livia is a Junior Communications student at John Paul The Great Catholic University. Her hobbies include reading how-to guides on being an adult, exploring the many pockets around North Country (San Diego) and attempting whatever new pasta recipes appear on Pinterest. She hails form Los Angeles but aspires to live in Houston one day for a career in Magazine Editing (not to mention the low housing prices). Her perfect afternoon would include cats of any kind, hot cider, and Malcolm In The Middle.