We’ve all been there. (Or at least, most of us will be eventually.) Awkwardly standing there, clutching whatever college information pamphlets they handed out at the beginning of the information session and tour, riding out the awkward silence when your tour guide asks “Do you guys have any questions?” at the end of every stop. And you know you have a question. Everyone does. But you never ask.
Well, grow a pair and ask! This might be the only opportunity you have to interact with current students and take their experiences and perspectives about the university into consideration, both in deciding to apply and to attend.
It is definitely important to go on these campus visits in your junior and senior year, ideally during the school year so you get to see students on campus and have the opportunity of interacting with them.
Of course, do as I say and not as I do, because I put off my visiting to the very last minute, not necessarily something I regret, but definitely something I could’ve done earlier. For me, visiting was never really going to make or break my decision to apply or even attend, so at first, I didn’t understand the value of going to campus. But I can assure you, reading about the campus on your laptop lounging on your bed is not enough. You definitely get a feel for the culture after a visit, and that can change your mind, even if it’s just a little change. (Plus, visiting is cool because you find a lot of material for the “Why Us?” essays, especially random facts and traditions that make you seem really connected to the university.)
So in honor of me returning from a college visit at Johns Hopkins (great campus) a couple hours ago, here’s a handy dandy list of questions you should or could ask a college tour guide, and maybe catch them off guard and get them to deviate from whatever “grass is greener on our campus” script they have been provided by the admissions office.
Some of these are more basic type questions that if your guide doesn’t cover, you should definitely take the opportunity to ask about. Some of the later ones in each category are the quirkier ones, the ones that make them think, ones that give you a real look into the campus culture (ones that I especially love asking).
Academics1. How many classes do most students take per semester?
2. How easy is it to get the classes you want - in terms of scheduling and signing up for popular classes?
3. How often did you use office hours in freshman year? And beyond?
4. Are classes mostly taught by faculty members?
5. Do TAs teach any classes?
6. How easy is it to change classes after you’ve signed up for them?
7. How easy is it to change majors?
8. How easy is it to take classes outside of your major or undergraduate school (like in the business school)?
9. Is it possible for undergraduates to enroll in graduate level courses?
10. How big was your biggest class in freshman year?
11. How small was your smallest class?
12. How many hours of classes do you usually have a week?
13. How many hours a week (or day) spend on homework?
14. What research opportunities are available?
15. What are the advising services provided?
16. Is there a requirement or option to do a senior thesis?
17. What tutoring options are there on campus?
18. Is there a required writing seminar in freshman year?
19, Are there a lot of current student scholarships that you can apply for?
20. What percent of the academic environment is competitive? Collaborative?
21. Is there a quiet study section of the library?
22. What’s the weirdest class you have taken?
Student Life23. What’s the most popular club on campus?
24. How many clubs did you sign up for in freshman year? How many of those are you still a part of?
25. How easy is it to start a new club?
26. What is the biggest school spirit event on campus?
27. What is the biggest tradition on campus?
28. Have you studied abroad or know someone that did? How easy was it to get a study abroad opportunity?
29. How often do you have speakers on campus? Which one do you think most represents the culture of the university?
30. How many times did you get sick in freshman year? Are there free health services on campus?
31, What’s one book you think most students on campus would have read?
32. Most importantly, how is the Wi-Fi?
Residence Life33. For how many years is housing guaranteed?
34. How is housing distributed? First come first serve or a lottery system?
35. How easy is it to find off-campus housing?
36. How is safety regulated on campus?
37. What are the different means of transportation available? Are they convenient?
38. How close are the dorms to the dining halls?
39. How close are the dorms to most freshman year classes?
40. Is there a friendly rivalry between freshmen dorms?
41. What are the meal plans like?
42. How many meals did you actually use out of your meal plan in freshman year?
43. What did the RAs do for you in freshman year?
44. What’s one thing you wished you had done differently in freshman year?
45. How has your friend group changed from freshman year to now?
46. Where do you see yourself in 5 years? 10 years?
47. What’s the best experience you’ve had with a professor?
48. If you could change one thing about this university, what would it be?
49. What did you want as a career when you were a senior in high school? Did it change?
50. What’s one unexpected thing you experienced in college?
Hopefully, you end up asking a few of those questions on your own tour :)
And as always, thanks for reading!