Ask the nitty gritty questions that will help you get a feel for the atmosphere, the students, and life on campus.
The campus visit is a key part of the admission process, but it can be a total waste if you don't know what questions to ask. The key is to avoid questions that can easily be answered by a brochure on the college’s website. Instead ask the nitty gritty questions that will help you get a feel for the atmosphere, the students, and life on campus.
Here are some questions to get you started:
Questions for the admission office
- What services are offered by the campus health center?
- Does the student health center refer students to the local hospital? Is it nearby? How large is it?
- How safe is the campus?
- Is there any kind of shuttle service between classroom areas, the library, the student union, and the dorms? How late does it run?
- How large is the campus security police force? Does it patrol the campus regularly?
- Are the dorms spread through the campus or clustered in one area?
- Is there any security system to bar outsiders from entering dorms?
Questions for students
- How many of your courses are taught by the real professor and how many by a teaching assistant?
- Is the teaching innovative, discussion- and project-oriented, or is it mostly lecture-oriented?
- How many students are in freshman classes?
- What are the strong majors and what are the weak majors?
- How hard do you have to work to get good grades?
- What reputation does the department of ___________ have?
- How adequate is the campus computer network?
- Do fraternities and sororities dominate the social life?
- What do students do on weekends? Do they all go home or hang around on campus?
- How much help outside of the classroom do you get from profs?
- Do people participate in the activities, groups, and clubs on campus? Or are they dominated by a few groups?
- Do the rooms have access to internet?
- What kind of sports equipment does the campus have? Is it well-kept?
- How is the quality of food in the cafeteria or dining hall? How are the sizes of the portions? Is it healthy or fast food? Are there meal plans?
Questions to ask yourself
- How did the staff members interact with students? Were they friendly or authoritarian?
- Do most of the students seem like you, or are they completely different?
- How would you feel about being in a classroom with these students? Sharing a dorm with them?
- Do the students try to make you feel at home? Were they helpful in answering your questions? How did they interact with one another?
- Does the campus seem like a good size for you?
- Are the dorms single-sex or co-ed? How do you feel about that?
- Are the dorms too quiet? Too noisy? Too crowded? Not enough action?
- How large are the rooms? Is there space to study? Have time to yourself?
- Does it look like there is much to do outside of campus?
- How easy is to get to places off campus? Are there places within walking distance?
- Do you feel comfortable and safe?
- Are there places to get extra furniture, like bookcases, for your dorm room?
- Is there a supermarket nearby to stock up on snacks and soda?
- If you move out of a dorm after freshman year, what are the options in apartment complexes or buildings?
Remember you are visiting the college to find out if it’s a good match for you. The students who are already there may like it, but you have to decide if you will too. So try to envision whether you can actually study there. Decide what’s important to you, whether its class size, healthy food, activities, or attentive profs, and make sure those elements are in place.