Questions to Ask On A College Tour
Academics, On-Campus Services, and the Surrounding Town
We tackled a number of the cosmetic aspects about visiting a campus in another segment of the series, as well as food and accommodations, but let’s dig down into the finer points. The reason you’re going to college is for your future—you want to learn something and you want a satisfying springboard into your chosen profession.
With that in mind, let’s go through what you should be asking of the academics and on-campus services of each school you visit. Plus, how the surrounding town can be just that, a place the college is near, or you can make it a primary asset in your future.
Questions for an Academic Advisor
- Are classes primarily taught by teaching assistants or professors?
- Do all professors have office hours?
- How are freshman year advisors assigned?
- Are there undergraduate research opportunities available? How many students participate?
- Is there an honors college or program? Capstone classes?
- What work-study opportunities are available? (This can help with financial aid)
- Is there a senior year project required of all students or for [insert major here]?
- Is there a writing center?
- What dorm types are available? What’s the requirement for living on campus?
- Is there career counseling? An internship office?
- What type of study abroad opportunities are there? How often are they available? Are they geared towards a specific program or can any major take advantage?
- Are there computer labs?
- Does the [insert major here] program have any awards, rankings, or unique offerings?
- Are any of the professors in the [major] program notable? Published?
- Is it possible to take a minor with the intended major?
- Is there a gym on campus? Is it free to students or does it require a membership with a monthly fee?
Academics (Experiences to Take Advantage of):
- Sit in on a class. How big was it? Was it considered a “major” class or was it a general education class? General education classes will typically be larger, while classes that drill down into majors will slowly grow smaller. Which do you prefer?
- Speak with a professor.
- If they have an internship director, schedule a visit and ask about typical opportunities they offer students in your interested field of study.
- Chat with other students in the program.
Do not ignore that last bullet point. The guide provided by the school is a good person, they’re there to help you and show off the best aspects of the college, but that’s just it: they’re highlighting the best.
Questions for Random Students
Attempt to find someone in the same major or college you’ll be in and ask them anything and everything that comes to mind. No one will judge you. No one will even bat an eyelash. Everyone’s too tired, stressed, or overworked to do anything but answer whatever question just floated into their ears. It’s conditioned at this point.
- What do you like most about the professors in [insert major]?
- How hard is it to register for classes?
- Is it difficult to get into particular classes? Have you ever missed out on a class because it was only offered every few semesters or filled up very quickly?
- Have you had any internships? If yes, was it difficult to get one?
- How’s the Wi-Fi?
- Are the professors accessible outside of class?
- Where are the best places to study on campus?
- How is the library? Is there a digital library?
- Is health services helpful?
- What are the school’s strengths?
- What’s your number one complaint?
This part of the checklist will really need to be tailored to you. It’s another area where you have to focus on your wants and needs, and many of these are dependent on other factors.
If you’re the kind of person that’s more than likely to catch any bug going around, you’ll want to understand the healthcare provided by the school.
- What kind of health insurance is provided for students who don’t have any?
- Is there a nurse or medical facility on campus that can prescribe antibiotics and the like?
- Is there a minute clinic nearby?
- Oftentimes schools employ a therapist to assist students in times of stress or for continued mental healthcare for students that need it. Does this school?
- Are there disability services available? Such as note-takers for students with dyslexia or ADHD?
If you have specific healthcare needs, you’ll want to do some digging on your own for healthcare professionals that you’ll need access to.
- Is there a hospital or large healthcare network nearby?
- Will they accept my insurance? Don’t hesitate to call and ask. If they don’t and you decide that this is the school you want to attend, you’ll need to make a plan for getting the assistance you need.
Ultimately, if you put the time in now, you'll find yourself prepared and confident for the start of your freshman year. You're also more likely to find yourself happy with your college choice and can avoid the (sometimes sticky and complicated) transfer process!
You're amazing and you're going to create a fantastic college list. Go crush it!
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