A campus visit is a fantastic opportunity to find out things about a college that you just can’t get from the website or other informational materials. It gives you a solid, real sense of the college, and some understanding of what everyday life there as a student will be like.
To make the most of your college visit, you need to ask the right questions. While the specifics vary from case to case, depending on your interests and priorities, there are some general categories that you should (and shouldn’t!) ask of specific people.
The Wrong Questions
First, let’s just take a minute to address the questions you shouldn’t ask during a campus visit. In general, these questions are the ones that you can answer for yourself through some simple research or by reading the website.
Some examples include:
- How many students attend this college?
- What’s the acceptance rate?
- What’s the average GPA or SAT/ACT score of a student who gets admitted?
- What was your GPA or SAT/ACT score? (Asking your student campus guide this question doesn’t actually give you any useful information, since you can find the averages easily, and is too invasive and personal.)
Questions for the Admissions Staff
The admissions staff can answer questions that you have about academics, classes, resources, and other topics along those lines. These questions should dig a bit deeper than things you can find your own answers to online or in the college’s brochures. For example, the website might tell you the average number of students per class overall, but the admissions staff will be able to tell you the average class size is in your intended major, or in upper-division classes.
Here are some examples of questions the admissions staff should be able to answer for you:
- How many hours a week do students typically spend on homework per class unit?
- What’s the ratio of classes taught by TAs or GSIs versus professors?
- Does the overall teaching style lean toward straight lectures or is it more interactive?
- Do students often pursue research opportunities or internships? How can I get involved with these?
- What academic resources are available to students? Is there a writing center or a tutoring center for students who need extra help
Questions for the Student Tour Guide (or Other Students)
Students who are attending the college you’re visiting can offer a unique perspective. They’ll be able to tell you what things are really like for students in a way that the admissions staff just may not know. They can give you absolutely invaluable insights into the student experience at that campus, and help you figure out whether it’s the right fit for you.
Don’t waste your time asking students that could be better answered by the admissions staff. Instead, focus on things specific to students, and take advantage of their unique insight. Some examples of things you could ask include:
- What’s your favorite thing about this school? And what’s your least favorite?
- How’s the food on campus?
- What’s life like in the dorms?
- How’s the Greek life on campus?
- Have you found professors to be accessible and approachable?
- How’s the diversity on campus?
- Do students tend to be friendly and easy to get to know, or are there strong cliques?