As you begin applying to colleges, you want to look for qualities in colleges that fulfill your higher education pursuits. These qualities could cover areas such as academic environment, campus life, and career preparation.
Think of your college search as a recipe: You want to add certain ingredients to give your dish the desired flavor. Once you have discovered the right mix of ingredients you’re looking for from your college experience, the greater the satisfaction and academic success you’ll have once you begin college. To gather the information you need to help you in your decision making, you’ll want to ask the college admissions officers you speak with some questions. The following lists can help you organize your thoughts and show admissions representatives how interested you are in their schools.
______ is my favorite school subject. How could I pursue a major in this subject area at your college?
If you’re undecided about a major, the answer to this question could help you explore some potential majors that may interest you.
What unique program offerings does your college’s curriculum include?
Discover what sets the college you’re interested in apart from similar schools. Are the programs in line with your academic ambitions?
What’s the teaching philosophy of the faculty members at your college?
Faculty members at an increasing number of colleges and universities must develop a teaching statement to pursue promotion and tenure at their respective institutions. Instructors find that creating this statement helps them grow as teachers. Through their teaching statement, instructors share their views about teaching and student learning to connect them with actual teaching practice.
By asking about the teaching philosophies of faculty members at the college you are interested in attending, you can discover whether their teaching and student learning approach aligns with your academic desires and motivations. For example, small liberal arts colleges emphasize the importance of small class sizes and faculty who take the time to get to know their students by name. Faculty at these institutions take great pride in putting teaching and students first and will gladly take time from their research pursuits to focus on their students’ needs.
Academic Support Questions
If requested in advance, do professors give individual academic support to students?
Some colleges require their faculty to have regular open office hours each week. These office hours can complement classroom lectures that occur as part of the semester schedule. Professors often encourage students to take advantage of office hours to get a one-on-one opportunity to ask questions about research papers or review difficult course concepts.
What types of academic support resources are available for students?
The first year in college is a major academic transition for many students. Professors set expectations for success in their courses. The courses themselves may require significant research papers throughout the semester, copious amounts of required reading outside class, and in-depth class lectures. First-year students who have not received adequate college preparation during high school may find themselves overwhelmed with stress about their courses during their first semester.
Colleges often have student academic support services departments for students who require tutoring, one-on-one academic planning, and accommodations for disabilities. Find out what types of student academic support resources are available at the college you’d like to attend and how students can best use these resources effectively for academic success.
How does the college work with students who have neurological conditions?
Colleges with academic support resources departments may have staff professionals trained to help students with diagnosed neurological conditions. These professionals work with students who have disclosed information about a neurological condition to their school. Suppose the college staff becomes aware of students with neurological conditions that may impact their ability to perform well academically. In this case, academic support staff can implement and support requests for academic accommodations, such as providing extra time for testing, providing lecture notes or transcripts of lectures to students, and creating balanced course schedules.
Campus Culture Questions
How would you describe the types of students who attend this college?
While you won’t fully grasp any college environment’s culture until you’re living and studying within it, the answer to this question can help give you a flavor for the campus atmosphere.
What types of clubs and organizations exist for someone like me who is interested in __________?
Ask the admissions counselor to go beyond the traditional fraternities and sororities. If a club or organization that interests you isn’t available at the college you’d like to attend, ask about the process involved in creating one.
What do students do for on- and off-campus leisure activities? What are some of the most significant events that happen each year on campus?
The answer to this question can help you determine what activities interest students on the campus. Think about how you might fit into the campus culture based on the college’s activities calendar.
Career Preparation Questions
What are some of the career paths that students who major in ___________ take after graduation?
Alumni are often the best resources for students who are seeking career opportunities after graduation. Inquire whether the college has a group of alumni that connects students with career professionals for mentoring and networking possibilities.
What types of internships or student research with faculty members exist at the college?
Discover whether the college you’re interested in maintains an active pool of internships with professionals in your field of interest. Many colleges also support undergraduate student research collaborations with faculty members.
What percentage of students are offered jobs before graduating?
The answer to this question can tell you whether employers regularly turn to the college to consider students as job candidates when filling open positions.
Keep in mind that no question is too insignificant. If something matters to you during the college admissions process, it matters enough to ask a question. Now that you’re familiar with the types of questions you should ask a college admissions counselor, you’ll be better able to assess your interest in the colleges you may want to attend.