7 tough questions to ask on campus visits

Students walking

Freshman retention rate, faculty to student ratio, the number of games won by men’s sports at night in an arena….college statistics can be overwhelming. What is important to remember? What just…isn’t?

As you and your family begin to visit college campuses, we wanted to offer some ammunition when facing off with college admissions staffs, and lots of statistics, in search of real answers to your very real questions.

Here are Tough Questions to Ask on Campus Visits:

1.   “Why did you choose this college?”

Make the most of your time with the student tour guide by not only asking about the institution, but about their personal experience and if the school has met their expectations. If you don’t have a student tour guide, ask your admissions counselor to put you in touch with a current student. It’s best to hear experiences from the people who live it.

2.   “What’s the average class size of a freshman classroom?”

Data points like student to faculty ratio can be misleading. Major-specific classes are always smaller in your junior or seniors year, which skew these results. But it’s the freshman-year experience that will set you up for success. Be specific and ask a question like, “How many students would typically be in my intro Biology course as a freshman?” This question will likely give you the answer you need. Is the answer 30 or 300? Those are two very different experiences. If you prefer knowing your professors and your professors knowing you, make sure your first-year college experience isn’t as a number in a large, crowded lecture hall.

3. “What academic and personal support services are available on campus?” 

Parents – we know you want a security blanket in place if your student needs help. Is there a writing or academic support center for homework? Is tutoring available? If so, how much does each session cost? Do you offer personal counseling or mental health services, if needed?

4.   “How easy is it to change majors?”

With nearly all certainty, you will change your mind. And that’s expect as you grow and learn about new fields and disciplines. But at some schools, this can have a big impact due to the strict nature of their curriculum.

If you’re interested in pre-med, for example, many schools require a heavy course load in the first semester (Biology 1, Chemistry 1, Calculus 1, etc.) for you to keep you on track to graduate. But, what if you decide after your first semester or at the end of your sophomore year? How does a major change affect when you graduate? And, how much would each additional semester or year of school cost? This leads to question #5….

5“How many of your students graduate in four years?”

Your “actual cost” in college (the sticker price minus scholarships, grants, and loans) is only guaranteed for four years. Yet only 1 in 3 students graduate in four years (a mere 33%)! This means 2 of 3 students end up paying more than they anticipate. Know now so you can be financially prepared to pay extra out-of-pocket for an extra semester, year, or two, if necessary. (P.S. Don’t forget to ask if they offer a 4-year guaranteed graduations..like Transy can with the Pioneer Pledge.)

6. “What percentage of graduates find jobs or are accepted into grad school within a few months after graduation?”

Not only should you be well-educated upon graduation, you should be well-prepared to tackle the job market or grad program of your choice. What grad schools are graduates attending? What jobs are they securing?

7. “What’s the five- or ten-year campus plan?”

Is the school physically improving or is it stagnant? Cranes and construction are an indication of growth and financial stability. Plus, new dorms and academic spaces are an added bonus!

During all of your campus visits, keep in mind that how you are treated as a prospective student reflects exactly how you will be treated as a current student. Customer service, responsiveness, and willingness to answer tough questions, like these, are an indicator of a college’s true colors.

P.S. We’re ready to answer your tough questions at Transy any time! Schedule your campus visit online today.