TIPS ON WHAT TO ASK DURING A COLLEGE VISIT
time and energy is spent by parents and their high school offspring
trying to find an excellent match between college and student. The
college visit allows high school students and their parents the
opportunity to experience a college up-close, and to meet current
students and staff. The time to ask pointed and individual questions is
during the visit. General Information on location, size, academics,
financial requirements, athletics, activities, and other topics can be
found easily in advance in guidebooks, and on the web.
The responses to
some of the questions below may be important in making that final and
best choice of school. Make your own list, and then add some of these:
How does this college use
the results of your AP tests? Will you be granted credit for
achieving a certain score? Will you be required to take placement tests
about graduation requirements. Are there any required courses
that you just really don’t want to take? Do you need to attain a
specific level of math or language proficiency? Is there a
senior thesis requirement?
increasingly find a semester or year of foreign study a valuable part
of their college experience. Does this college have an actual
program with personnel in other countries? Is it easy to
transfer credits from study abroad with another institution?
Will a year abroad mesh easily with requirements for completion of
particular majors. Some students especially those who major
in a science may be surprised by how difficult it is to satisfy
required sequences in course work if they study in another
If you are
enticed by an “honors” program, ask if the program encompasses first
year studies only or if it includes course work during later years.
It would not be
an exaggeration to say that the majority of students do not know what
they want to major in when they arrive on campus as first year
students, and many, many students also change their minds more than
once.How easy is it to
change your major once you have declared? Does this college
have strength in a number of different areas in case you do want to
How is the year
divided? Is there a traditional two semester
calendar? Trimesters? Quarters? Does this
college have a “winter session?” Is it mandatory?
Do the course listings sound like fun or are they dreary?
Does it cost extra?
important. Who prepares the food? Has this college
contracted with a big profit making corporation? Are meal
plans required? How much flexibility is there? Can
you get meals late at night? Is the food tasty and
nutritious? Are there lots of choices? Does the
menu change daily? Are there fast food franchises or
home-style meals? Can you cook in the dorm? What
kind of atmosphere is in the dining rooms? Do students go off
campus a lot because the food is not very good? How much
extra money will that cost?
Are you required
to live in a dormitory all four years? Are the dorms
attractive and comfortable? What system is used to assign
rooms? Do single rooms cost more? Adequate storage? If your
college offers “guaranteed housing” what exactly does that
mean? Are you allowed to have overnight guests in
dorms? Are there rules you find oppressive? What if you and
your first year roommate do not get along – at all? Are you
required to leave your dorm during long vacation periods?
Can you walk to
almost everything? What kind of transportation is available to
students? Are there buses? Is there a shuttle to
the airport? Is there a “car share” program? Is
there a place to keep your bike?
LIFE BEYOND ACADEMICS
social life based on belonging to fraternities and
sororities? How do students spend their weekends?
Do they go off-campus for special events or because there is nothing
much to do on campus? How much socializing is alcohol
based? Is there an active drug scene? What are
popular activities? What kinds of events are staged on
campus? Are prominent scholars invited to visit as well as
big name entertainers?
have a passion for a particular activity will you be able to
participate? Is theater reserved for drama majors or
orchestra for music majors? Is it easy to try new
activities? Is there fierce competition for spots on the
school newspaper or yearbook?
Does this college
have similar weather to your hometown? If it is substantially
hotter or colder or if there a huge difference in precipitation, is
that going to bother you? Will your budget be stressed by
needing to buy a new wardrobe to cope with differences?
much PE is required? Do you have choices? How
important are team athletics? Are there
intramurals? Do students informally play basketball or
cricket or Frisbee or other games that you also enjoy? Is there an
up-to-date fitness facility?
HEALTH AND SAFETY
Coping with Problems:
If you have a
chronic mental or physical health problem, are there facilities and
personnel on campus to help you be at your best? Are there academic
policies in place to allow for your special needs? What kind
of help is available for unanticipated injuries or illness?
Is counseling included in your fees? If you need to go
off-campus to the dentist or have some physical therapy or fill a
prescription, will you find these tasks manageable? How does
your family health insurance policy fit into campus health
facilities? Are you now “out of plan?” How does
this college help students cope with “stress?”
Are there a
reasonable number of people who share your ethnicity or religion or
gender? Will you feel comfortable being a minority if you
have never been one before? Do students take part in the
community surrounding the campus?
What are the
buildings like? Adequate quiet and noisy spaces?
Are the building and grounds well-maintained? Attractive
landscaping? Natural beauty? Well-lit at
night? Blue light system for safety?
Is the computer
technology up-to-date and used by students, professors, and
administrators in a wide variety of applications? Are there
web-based courses? Are computers available for student use
throughout campus? Is there a college wireless network? How
about on-campus technical support and repair? Are student
discounts available for purchases of computers and related equipment?
How “green” is
the campus? What is the attitude of the college toward
“green?” Are there buildings planned or already constructed with little
or no carbon foot print? Are there alternative
technologies in use or planned for heating, cooling. Are
students being encouraged to lower energy consumption in a wide variety
of ways? How much do they recycle?
expensive. Will you get a “big bang” for your buck?
What does your student fee cover? How much more money will be
needed as the academic year progresses? Do you have to maintain a
certain GPA to keep financial aid the second year? What kinds
of campus jobs are available as part of financial aid? Are similar jobs
available for students who do not receive financial aid
packages? How about off-campus jobs? What kinds of
help does the Career Center offer? How does this campus’ endowment compare to
similar colleges? How do administrators use the proceeds?
students have issues with regulations or some aspect of campus life,
what is the attitude of administrators? Do they engage
students and enable them to make constructive changes on campus, or
does the campus sport a more authoritarian way of governance?
Do you function better with more or less structure in your daily life?
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A goal without a plan is just a wish --