When your child begins searching for the college of his or her dreams, you are going to be bombarded with more facts, figures, and statistics than you will know what to do with.
Some of it will be useful, some of it will be unnecessary fluff, and together it will most certainly be overwhelming.
It can be difficult to sift through this wealth of information and find the answers you need. However, oftentimes it is even more difficult to know what questions to ask in the first place.
Questions You Should Always Ask of the College / University Admissions Department
1- What do students like most about your school?
This question is absolutely essential. It will shed light on the values of the university and its student population, as well as the aspects of the college that tend to be the biggest draw for the student body. This is clearly important since your child will be deciding whether or not to become part of that student body.
2- What percentage of students at your university receive financial aid?
This statistic is generally not too difficult to find yourself, and it is a good way to gauge your child’s chances of receiving financial assistance if they attend. A higher percentage of students receiving financial aid usually means that your child will have a better chance as well.
3- What is the culture like at your school?
The way in which an admissions officer describes their school’s culture will give you a glimpse into the atmosphere that your child can expect to experience if they attend. It will normally be pretty clear whether the college’s culture matches with your prospective student’s personality and needs.
4- What is the best way a prospective student can prepare to apply to your university?
College admissions officers can tell you the types of classes and extracurricular activities that the school gives weight to in the admissions process. If you find out ahead of time what will better your chances of acceptance, you can improve on the areas where you are lacking and emphasize the aspects of your résumé that look the best.
5- What role does Greek life (Fraternities and Sororities) play on campus?
Greek life varies greatly from campus to campus. Some schools have few or no fraternities and sororities, while others have social scenes that are entirely dominated by Greek life. If your child does not want to join, you may want to avoid a school where a large majority of students participate in Greek life.
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6- What makes your college’s education unique or different, and what is your academic philosophy?
Let’s not forget that, above all else, college is about getting an education. You will want to know what makes each particular school stand out from an academic standpoint. How they approach the education process and what they believe about education may make or break your decision to apply or attend.
7- Are professors generally available to give extra help after class hours? What percentage of classes are taught by full-time faculty compared to teaching assistants?
This two-part question is another essential to understanding the academic atmosphere of a school.
Professors who are willing to make time to work with students after hours are more focused on educating, as opposed to being focused on research and doing some teaching on the side. As for part two of this question, you are paying a lot of money to be taught by actual professors, not grad students. Make sure your child will receive the education you expect, and they deserve.
8- What are your school’s 4, 5, and 6-year graduation rates? What are the graduation rates like for the major(s) your student is most interested in?
This question can be particularly telling. Generally, if a high percentage of students graduate in 4 years, then you can expect a higher level of education, an availability of academic help like tutoring, and you as parents can expect to save money. If the rates are skewed towards 5 or 6 years to graduate, you may want to think twice. You will also want to know about the average time it takes to graduate in your child’s specific major of interest.
9- Tell me about your school’s career center. How does the college aid students in finding internships and jobs?
In this incredibly difficult job climate, any school that can help students find jobs right after college could be worth its weight in gold.
10- What do students do for fun? What activities are located nearby?
You know the saying, “All work and no play…” Perhaps the school is in a prime location for outdoor activities like hiking. Maybe concerts, movies, and sporting events are a short walk away. Maybe students stick to on-campus activities. Whatever the case, you will want to know so you can decide if the school matches your child’s interests.