So Many Choices (part V): 40+ Questions to Ask on Your Next College Visit

There are over 4,000 colleges in the United States. At CCA, we recommend visiting while students are on campus and asking thoughtful questions so you can identify the things that are most important to you before you apply.

I’m so confused when I see families applying to colleges sight-unseen. After all, they wouldn’t buy a car without at least test-driving it. Students should be prepared with questions, absorb the questions for those around them, and engage with other families as they tour college campuses.

Your college decision is a puzzle, and each conversation brings another piece into focus. Below, we offer 40+ questions to ask for a better visit experience. You’ll want to understand the academic offerings and facilities and get a sense of campus life. What’s the pulse of the community? How are students supported beyond the classroom?

Pro Tip: Begin visiting local colleges in 9th grade to motivate your student and help identify their college priorities.

Finally, tap into the hive mind and pay attention to the questions buzzing around you. Families on your tour may have great questions you (and we) haven’t considered. Don’t be shy about striking up conversations with other families on tour if it seems your priorities align. They may have insight into that next school you plan to visit (or one you should add to your list)!

Admissions:
  • What were last year’s median GPA and test scores for students who were admitted?
  • Does demonstrated interest play a role in the admission process?
  • Is it optional to submit SAT/ACT scores and are there exceptions to the test-optional policy?
  • How does legacy factor into admissions, and who is considered legacy?
  • Do admissions interviews play a role, and are they conducted by alumni, students, or admissions officers?
  • Are there any majors with capped enrollments (especially ones you may pursue)?
Academics:
  • Are classes taught by professors or teaching assistants (what %)?
  • What is the average class size and largest class size for freshmen, and how do incoming freshmen receive course selection advising for their first-year classes?
  • How is priority determined in the course registration process (by grade level, honors programs, etc.)?
  • Are classes more theoretical or hands-on?
  • How easy is it to switch majors or schools within the university?
  • What is the breakdown of requirements for your majors (major credits/elective credits/open elective credits)?
  • What percentage of students choose to study abroad?
Academic Support:
  • What tutoring services are available, and are they free?
  • How often do students meet with academic advisers?
  • How accessible are professors outside of the classroom?
  • What resources are provided for students with special needs and how are they accessed?
Financial Aid:
  • Are merit scholarship estimates included in the net price calculator?
  • How much financial need does the college typically meet?
  • What additional costs beyond housing, meals, and tuition should be budgeted?
  • Are their opportunities to apply for donor-funded scholarships?
  • How do outside scholarships impact financial aid packages (especially need)?
  • Do accepted students receive their financial aid award letters simultaneously with their admission offers?
Student Life (Tour Guides):
  • How did you get involved when you first came to the school?
  • How did you meet your friends, and what activities do students enjoy for fun?
  • Is there significant attendance at athletic games?
  • How does the school foster community and cultural understanding?
  • What’s important to students on campus?
  • Can you share some main events or traditions?
Campus Housing and Community:
  • Are students required to live on campus, and what percentage choose to do so?
  • How do students select a room and roommate?
  • How do students feel about living and dining on campus?
  • Do most students opt to live off-campus after the freshman year?
  • How would you describe the campus and community from a safety perspective, and what is the college’s relationship with the surrounding community? Read the Cleary Report, which will be published on the school’s website by Federal Law.
Work and Research Opportunities:
  • What research opportunities are available outside the classroom?
  • What career guidance and internship or co-op opportunities does the school offer?
  • What percentage of undergraduates have internship or research experience by graduation?
  • Is it common for freshmen and sophomores to secure research or internship opportunities?
Student Outcomes:
  • What is the four-year graduation rate, and what are the requirements for on-time graduation?
  • What is the retention rate from freshman to sophomore year?
  • What is the average student loan debt upon graduation?
  • Are career advising services available to alumni, or exclusively to enrolled students?

Conclusion:
Be prepared with questions, absorb the queries around you, and engage with other families. Your college decision is a puzzle, and each conversation brings another piece into focus. As always, CCA is here to help when you need us!

Keep Reading:
So Many Choices (part VI): Early Decision, Early Action, Rolling Admission, and Open Enrollment- Which Is Best for You?

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