Just as your prospective college or university will want to learn a lot about you before accepting your enrollment application, it’s very important that you do some investigating of your own about what they have to offer you. You would not commit to a long-term dating relationship with someone whose profile you’d only seen on the Internet. Likewise, you need to step foot onto the campus of your maybe-choice and spend some quality time there before making a long-term educational commitment.
When visiting a prospective college, maximize your time by arriving prepared with a priority list of things that you want to learn and discover.
Questions to Ask the Profs
- What made you decided to teach at this college?
- Where did you go to undergraduate school, and why?
- Are undergraduate research opportunities available to me, and what percentage of your department’s graduates go on to graduate school?
- What are the common characteristics and life experiences of the students who excel in this major?
Questions to Ask the Students
- Who are your favorite instructors and classes, and why?
- Who are your least favorite instructors and classes, and why?
- Do you like the community of students on this campus? Do you feel welcome, safe and comfortable?
- Where do you live? Do you like it? What is considered the best living arrangement, on or off campus, for undergrads?
- What are some of the most popular clubs, organizations, or groups on campus? Do you belong to any?
- What are the social activities like on this campus and nearby? What’s to do for fun? Are there places to get healthy food?
- If you could do it all over again, would you still choose to attend this university?
Pay a visit to all of the housing options available to you and notice how you feel in each of them. Do you feel at home? Safe? Comfortable? Can you see yourself living here for months at a time? Is there enough privacy for you if you are an introvert; enough social contact if you are an extrovert?
Are the rooms, halls, common areas, and bathrooms clean, nicely lit, and well furnished? Would you want to shower here every day and hang out in the common area with other students? Take notes as you visit each prospective college so that you can do a thorough pros and cons list.
Here is a great College Selection Questionnaire that will help you to hone in on specifics such as in which region of the country would you like to study, and how far from home do you want to be? Are you looking for a warm and sunny, beach or desert campus, or are winter sports your life’s blood? How many other students would you like to be surrounded by, and what interests would you most like to share with them?
Deciding where to spend your undergraduate years is as important as deciding what you want to study during those years. Be discerning, thoughtful and deliberate, and you’ll have a college experience that will serve you for the rest of your life.
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