It’s important to arm yourself with a list of questions to ask colleges, but not just when you and your student are on campus. It’s important to know what you’ll ask year-round, at every point through the college visit.
I used to work in college admission, and one family asked me such difficult questions when I was an admission counselor that I gave them an “A+” for “hardest questions of the year” and said, “You should go talk to my boss.”
They asked me questions like, “What does the college pay for water and electricity and how does that work into my son’s tuition?”
Relevant questions get to what you need to know. Asking the right person the right questions is paramount.
What are the questions you should be asking? Whether you shoot a list of questions over to an admission counselor or want to pull a list before you go to a college fair, here’s a well-rounded list of questions to ask.
- General Questions to Ask Colleges
- Questions to Ask College Admissions
- Questions to Ask College Coaches
- Questions to Ask College Interviewers
- Questions to Ask Financial Aid Officers
- Questions to Ask Professors
- Questions to Ask Career Services Personnel
- Questions to Ask Current Students
- How to Get Great Answers to Your Questions
- Embracing the Power of Questions
- Key Inquiries for Savvy Parents
- 1. Who’s Your Child’s Admission Counselor?
- 2. Understanding the Admission Process
- 3. Connecting with Key Individuals
- 4. Engaging with Current Students
- 5. Clarifying Expectations and Values
- 6. Exploring Financial Aid Options
- Don’t Be Afraid to Ask Tough Questions
General Questions to Ask Colleges
The topic “questions to ask colleges” is a bit interesting because there are general questions to ask colleges, and then there are ways to break it up because you’ll meet lots of individual people during the visit, including admission counselors, financial aid officers, coaches,
What are some general questions to ask colleges? Let’s take a quick look at some questions you must ask:
- What is the student-to-faculty ratio?
- Can you tell me more about the academic support services available on campus?
- What opportunities are there for undergraduate research or internships?
- How does the college support students in finding housing options?
- What clubs and extracurricular activities are popular on campus?
- Are there study abroad programs available, and how are they facilitated?
- Can you describe the campus safety measures and resources?
- What career services are offered to students and alumni?
- What percentage of students receive financial aid, and what types of aid are available?
- How does the college foster diversity and inclusion among its student body?
Now, let’s dive into more pointed questions you can ask during other points in the college journey. Specifically, we’ll walk through questions to ask college admissions, coaches, college interviewers, financial aid officers, professors and career services personnel.Questions to Ask College Admissions
I frequently received the following questions about college admissions, and I welcomed them! I’ll add another bonus question that I think is a super great one: What would you change about this college/university. Whoo, that gets the admission counselor’s wheels turning!
- What are the application deadlines and requirements?
- Can you explain the process for applying for financial aid or scholarships?
- Are there any special programs or initiatives for first-generation college students?
- What criteria are considered during the admissions review process?
- Can you provide information about the acceptance rate and the profile of the incoming freshman class?
- Are interviews with admissions officers or alumni recommended or required?
- How does the college support students’ transition from high school to college?
- Are there opportunities for early admission or dual enrollment programs?
- Can you share insights into the college’s retention and graduation rates?
- What resources are available for students with disabilities?
Questions to Ask College Coaches
If your child plans to play sports in college, whether they’re considering a Division I, II or III program, here are some common questions you should ask any college coach:
- What is the team’s philosophy and approach to training and competition?
- How do you support student-athletes in balancing academics and athletics?
- What are the expectations for off-season training and conditioning?
- Can you provide information about the team’s schedule and travel commitments?
- How are playing time and positions determined within the team?
- What academic support services are available for student-athletes?
- Can you talk about the team’s recent accomplishments and goals for the future?
- How do you handle injuries and medical support for athletes?
- What are the team’s facilities like, and are there plans for upgrades or expansions?
- How do you assist athletes in pursuing opportunities beyond college sports?
Questions to Ask College Interviewers
As part of the college search process, your child may interview with an alumnus or alumna of the college or university, and while they may ask your child questions, you may wonder about what your child should ask them. Your child must have questions in mind to ask! Here are a few suggestions:
- Can you tell us about your own experience at this college/university?
- What qualities or attributes is the college looking for in its students?
- How does the college support students in exploring and declaring their majors?
- Can you share some examples of unique opportunities or experiences available to students here?
- How would you describe the campus community and student life?
- What advice do you have for students transitioning from high school to college?
- How accessible are professors and advisors for students seeking guidance or mentorship?
- Can you describe any recent changes or developments on campus?
- What do you think sets this college apart from others?
- How does the college foster a sense of belonging and inclusivity among its students?
Questions to Ask Financial Aid Officers
When you’re on a college visit, you want to talk with financial aid officers as well. If you didn’t schedule a college visit and include a financial aid officer, you want to call up the admission office and get that added to your schedule.
- What types of financial aid are available, and how does my child apply for them?
- Can you explain the different types of loans and their terms?
- Are there any scholarships or grants specifically available for incoming freshmen?
- How does the college determine financial aid packages?
- Are there work-study opportunities available, and how does my child qualify for them?
- Can you provide information on the FAFSA and CSS Profile deadlines?
- What happens if my financial circumstances change after I’ve submitted my financial aid application?
- Are there any additional forms or documents required for financial aid consideration?
- Can you explain the process for appealing a financial aid decision?
- Are there resources available to help students understand and manage their student loan debt?
Questions to Ask Professors
You can meet with professors when you visit college campuses. It’s a good idea because your child can get an idea of who they will take classes from in college. Consider the following questions:
- Can you tell us about your research interests and current projects?
- How accessible are professors outside of class for student questions and discussions?
- What opportunities are there for undergraduate students to participate in research or collaborate with faculty?
- Can you describe the typical class size for introductory and upper-level courses in your department?
- What teaching methods do you employ to engage students and facilitate learning?
- Are there opportunities for students to work as teaching or research assistants?
- How do you encourage critical thinking and intellectual curiosity in your courses?
- Can you share examples of how you integrate real-world applications into your teaching?
- What resources does the department provide to support student success in your courses?
- How do you approach advising and mentorship for students majoring in your field?
If you get a chance to meet with career services (and I recommend it!) you can put forth a few questions from them.
- What types of career development resources and services does the college offer to students?
- Can you describe the process for students to access career counseling and advising services?
- Are there workshops or seminars available to help students develop essential career skills such as resume writing, interviewing and networking?
- How does the college assist students in identifying internship opportunities related to their field of study?
- Does the college have partnerships with employers or alumni networks to facilitate job placements for graduating students?
- Can you provide examples of companies or organizations where recent graduates have secured employment or internships?
- Are there opportunities for students to participate in career fairs, networking events or informational interviews with professionals in various industries?
- What support services are available to alumni who may be seeking career advancement or transitioning to new roles?
- How does the career services office collaborate with academic departments and student organizations to enhance students’ career readiness?
- Are there specific programs or initiatives aimed at helping students from underrepresented backgrounds succeed in their career pursuits?
Don’t forget to check out a list of questions to ask on a college tour.
Questions to Ask Current Students
Current students and alumni can provide valuable insights into their personal experiences, challenges and successes at the college. Gather as many firsthand accounts as you can while you’re on campus.
- What do you enjoy most about attending this college/university?
- Can you describe the academic atmosphere and classroom dynamics?
- How accessible are professors outside of class for questions and assistance?
- What are the most popular extracurricular activities or student organizations on campus?
- How would you describe the social scene and campus community?
- What are some common challenges that students face here, and how does the college support students in overcoming them?
- Can you share your experience with housing options and campus living?
- How do students typically spend their weekends or free time on campus?
- What opportunities are there for undergraduate research, internships, or study abroad programs?
- How has your experience at this college/university prepared you for your future career or graduate studies?
How to Get Great Answers to Your Questions
Conduct thorough research about the college, its programs, campus culture and other relevant information before you even get on campus. This will help you ask more specific and targeted questions during your interactions. Don’t be afraid to write down the questions ahead of time and refer to them during the college tour. Better yet, print questions from this list!
Here are some tips regarding asking smart questions:
- Go for open-ended questions: Frame your questions in a way that encourages detailed and meaningful responses. Open-ended questions typically begin with “how,” “what,” “why” or “can you describe.”
- Listen carefully: Pay close attention to the responses you receive and ask follow-up questions to clarify any points that are unclear or require further elaboration.
- Seek multiple perspectives: Don’t rely on a single source for information. Seek out insights from various individuals such as admissions officers, professors, students, alumni and support staff to gain a well-rounded understanding of the college experience. Ask the same question of all of them — my favorite is, “What would you change about this place?” It’s fun to watch them stumble around to answer it!
- Utilize information sessions: Take advantage of information sessions and admission events to interact directly with college representatives and explore campus facilities.
- Ask for specific examples: When seeking information about academic programs, support services or extracurricular opportunities, ask for specific examples or anecdotes that illustrate how students have benefited from these resources. Get them to tell stories!
- Follow up via email or phone: If you have additional questions or need further clarification after your initial interaction, don’t hesitate to follow up with individuals at colleges via email or phone.
Finally, pay attention to how your questions are received and whether the responses align with your expectations and goals. Trust you and your child’s instincts when evaluating the information provided to make informed decisions about your college options.Embracing the Power of Questions
One family once astounded me with their insightful inquiries during an admissions office visit. Their probing questions about the finer details of college operations left me impressed. From inquiries about utility expenses to sustainability initiatives, they demonstrated a keen awareness of what matters. While I may not have had all the answers, their questions underscored the importance of seeking relevant information.
Key Inquiries for Savvy Parents
Savvy parents ask questions related to the following things.
1. Who’s Your Child’s Admission Counselor?
Getting to know your child’s admission counselor is paramount. This dedicated individual serves as your family’s liaison to the college experience. From financial aid guidance to insider knowledge about campus life, admission counselors offer invaluable support.
2. Understanding the Admission Process
In today’s evolving educational landscape, understanding the admission process is essential. Whether it’s navigating test-optional policies or grasping COVID-19 protocols, staying informed empowers both parents and students.
3. Connecting with Key Individuals
Facilitating connections with professors and other campus figures can profoundly impact your child’s college journey. Whether it’s through virtual meetings or campus visits, fostering these relationships fosters a supportive academic environment.
4. Engaging with Current Students
Encouraging your child to interact with current students provides invaluable insights into campus life. From firsthand accounts of academic rigor to candid discussions about campus culture, these interactions offer a glimpse into the student experience.
5. Clarifying Expectations and Values
Asking about the unique experiences a college offers helps align your child’s expectations with institutional values. By understanding what sets a college apart, you can ensure a better fit for your child’s academic and personal growth.
6. Exploring Financial Aid Options
Navigating the complexities of financial aid early on empowers families to make informed decisions. Utilizing net price calculators and engaging with financial aid offices enables you to plan for college costs proactively.
Don’t Be Afraid to Ask Tough Questions
As parents, it’s our responsibility to advocate for our children and seek the answers we need. Don’t hesitate to ask tough questions and push for clarity throughout the college search process. Remember, you’re the customer, and your child’s future deserves nothing less than your diligent inquiry.
In conclusion, embracing the power of questions is the hallmark of savvy prospective parents. By asking the right questions and engaging with college stakeholders, you pave the way for a transformative college experience for your child. So, let’s put a zip in our step and embark on this exhilarating journey together!