Making that huge decision about which college you want to attend or the major you want to focus on is a very challenging step. There are just so many factors to consider. Although the preference of each student greatly varies, some basic but helpful questions apply to most prospective college students.
Below are 100 questions to ask when choosing your college or major. Understanding this list can help you decide whether or not your choice of school or major should be on your list. To help you start examining different characteristics of a potential college, here is a list of questions.
- Campus-Related Information
- Academic Factors
- Financial Aid, Merit Awards, and Costs to Consider
- Location-related Information
- Campus Life
- Career Development Factors
- Questions for Current Students
- Questions for Recent Graduates
- Questions for Alumni
- Ranking, Statistics and Related Information
- Preparing for College Life
- Preparing for College Applications
- Preparing for College While in High School
- Preparing for a College Interview
1. What is this university known for?
2. What makes this campus special?
3. What is the current population of undergraduate students?
4. What is the number of your graduate students?
5. Is this campus diverse? How?
6. Is the school financially sound?
7. What is the bond rating of this school?
This is the most crucial factor in any college you want to decide upon. Even if you are still not sure as to the major you want to pursue, it’s good that you be aware of the strength of certain departments you are thinking about.
8. What degrees are offered?
9. Are there choices to take on minor subjects?
10. Do they have programs in that major/minor I am eyeing on?
11. What is your student population?
12. What is the normal number of each of your incoming freshmen?
13. Private or public? What is the usual class sizes? (Consider that most freshmen courses are larger, and normally reduces once you begin to concentrate on your major).
14. What is the faculty-student ratio?
15. Who handles the classes? Teaching assistants or the faculty?
16. Are the teachers known within the field of studies?
17. Given my major, is it possible that I study abroad?
18. What is the needed curriculum for first-year students?
19. What is the usual size of upper-division courses? Of introductory courses?
20. How difficult or easy is it to enroll in my course of choice?
21. If any, how much interaction does a normal undergraduate have with tenured professors? Are the interactions generally confined to lecture halls?
22. Is my planned major an oversubscribed/impacted discipline?23. Is double major possible?
24. What system does the school employ? Semester, trimester, or quarter?
25 Are the standards of admission higher for specific majors?
Financial Aid, Merit Awards, and Costs to Consider
While student loans and scholarships are necessary, you don’t want to finish school with a lot of student debts, right?
26. How much is the school’s tuition?
27. What are the usual student costs outside of tuition? Housing, books, meal plans, etc.
28. How much does a school’s residence hall cost? What is the usual cost for a meal plan?
29. Does the school offer scholarships or financial assistance packages to qualified students?
30. What percentage of my financial need will the school usually meet?
31. Will this percentage shrink after my freshman year?
32. What percentage of my financial need will the school meet with scholarships and grants?
33. What is the school’s average financial aid package?
34. What is the usual breakdown of grants versus loans?
35. What is the average merit award?
36. What do I need to be granted with a merit scholarship?
37. Do I need to apply for merit scholarships separately?
38. If I complete the degree program in more than four years, what happens to the financial aid package?
39. What percent of the school’s population receive scholarships or grants?
40. Up to what amount of loan debt can I accumulate?
41. What is the average Federal PLUS loan debt amount can parents borrow?
42. Do you have work-study programs?
43. In recent years, how often does the tuition rate increase?
44. Are there extra scholarships available for specific talents or majors?
45. How can I understand more about merit scholarships?
46. Is the school’s net price calculator accurate based on the current costs?
47. Is there a financial literacy training for students?
48. Does the school offer athletic scholarships?
49. What is the student loan default rate?
The location of the school can make or break every student’s college experience. For instance, if it’s too expensive for you to get home during special occasions, that is one crucial aspect. Or if you cannot stand the campus’ weather even for half an academic year, that is something you must consider.
50. What is the school location like?
51. Do I prefer an urban or a rural setting?
52. What is the usual weather during the academic year?
53. Will I love the surrounding areas—towns, communities, cities, etc.?
54. How far is it from my house?
55. How much will I spend to visit my home often?
56. Is the campus generally safe?
57. What is the transportation situation in the school?
58. Can I easily get by to class? (walking, bus, biking, driving)
Numerous facets make up your campus life and college experience, and it is important to ask questions about them!
59. What are the resources in the school? (Think about libraries, gym, laboratories, career centers, medical facilities, etc.)
60. What benefits can students avail? Gym access? Medical visits?
61. What are the different housing options? Aside from dorms and residence halls, are there off-campus options?
62. Can the residence hall accommodate residents with special dietary needs?
63. What is the student body like? What is the gender ratio? Is it diverse?
64. Will I get that sense that I will fit in very well with the students?
65. Are students focused socially and academically?
66. Will the school implement specific religious affiliation? If so, will I feel comfortable with it? Is it something that I will enjoy?
67. If the school concentrates on a different religion from mine, is there somewhere near the school where I can practice my religion?
68. In terms of social life, what will the school offer? Extracurricular activities, organizations, or student clubs, perhaps? How many residents normally join these groups?
69. Does the institution believe in fostering the school spirit?
70. What safety practices does the school implement to guarantee the safety of the students?
Career Development Factors
Although this may sound far off, it’s still best to ask the relevant questions about career potentials and assistance in any college.
71. What programs does the school have to help students with career planning and development and internship opportunities?
72. Will my major/department of choice help me secure with internship/career prospects?
73. In terms of benefits, what does the college career center provide?
74. Can students immediately find jobs right after graduation? Will the school assist this?
Questions for Current Students
Learn about your chosen school from the students who are currently enrolled there.
75. Why did you enroll here?
76. If there is something you wish to change about this school, what would it be?
77. What do you like most about this school? The least?
78. What students usually succeed on your campus?
79. Are there students that don’t fit in?
80. Overall, how will you rate your experience at this campus?
81. How do you rate the faculty? The campus facilities? The food? The residence halls?
82. What aspects of a college student do you enjoy the most on the campus?
83. Can you easily navigate school?
84. Is there anything you should have known before enrolling?
Questions for Recent Graduates
85. If you could turn back time, are you still going to choose your school again?
86. Do you feel your school geared for your life?
87. What experience did you have at school?
Questions for Alumni
88. Throughout your academic years, how would you rate your experience?
89. What did you love/hate about the school?
90. After graduation, was it easy for you to find a job?
91. Did you have internships? If so, did the school help you secure it?
92. Did you have the chance to study overseas? How was the experience?
93. What do you wish were you privy to before enrolling in this school?
94. Given a chance to enroll again in college, are you still going to choose this school? Why or why not?
95. Are the alumni association members involved in the school? How?
Ranking, Statistics and Related Information
96. What is the usual graduation rate?
97. What is the ranking/reputation of the college?
98. What is the school’s median GPA?
99. Will I likely be on top or at the bottom tier in my class?
100. Based on my standardized test scores and GPA, is admission realistic on my part?
While opinions of students and alumni do not always reflect the majority, it’s wise to do your research and ask for opinions to you get to have a better sense of the views on campus!
Preparing for College Life
Whoever tells you it is too early to prepare for college doesn’t have a clue!
Transitioning to college life is exciting and terrifying at the same time—and it’s hard to tell if you have enough time to get ready for it! Check out these tips to equip you for this life-changing journey.
Consider your finances.
It’s no secret; college is really expensive. Since you are not a millionaire (just yet), the money you will be spending for college will have to come from someplace. discuss your options with your parents. Find out if they can help a portion of your expenses. From there, create a plan to achieve your financial goals.
One helpful way is to have a savings account or a part-time job. But don’t close your doors into actively applying for scholarship opportunities. If you can, know your financial aid option well before your senior year.
Ace your academic work.
This is very obvious. Before entering college, your grades will play the most critical determining factor in getting accepted to your chosen college. Plus, an impressive academic record will likely get you more chances of college student aids and scholarships. If you think you can do better with your ACT or SATs and you still have another chance for a retake, then do it.
Brush up on your social skills.
It doesn’t necessarily mean to be extrovert in just a snap of a hand. If your social skills are nothing but boring, it’s best to practice branching out. Communication is the key. After all, this is what holds everything together. Your relationships with your professors and fellow students will greatly depend upon the connection you make with everyone.
If you are less of a social butterfly and much like a wallflower, improve your social abilities. Begin by raising your hand in class more often. Answer questions, and stop thinking about what your classmates will think of you. Remember, if you need and want something, you have to speak up. As the adage goes, “The squeaky wheel gets the grease.”
Create a system to help you manage your time.
If during your high school years, you felt so overwhelmed with so many activities, that’s nothing compared to college life. During college, your plate will always be full of happenings here and there. What makes this more challenging is the fact that you will no longer have your teachers and parents tell you to comply with the requirements.
Along with your newfound freedom in college comes a substantial responsibility for managing your own time. It’s good to practice a habit of setting your schedule. You can find several time management apps to block out your time for work, school, sleep or play. A planner also helps get the job done. With self-discipline, you will thank your future self for doing so.
Know more about your future home.
As of the moment, you probably take for granted all those little things you have right now. By the time you attend college, everything will be completely different. If you want to buy medicines because you don’t feel well, do you know where your nearest pharmacy is? Or how about if you need some weekend pampering, are you familiar with the local spa around your campus? What about if you feel hungry in the middle of the night, but you have no idea where to go?
Familiarizing and knowing your new surroundings before you arrive there will give you a glimpse of the real thing. Instead of worrying about these little but beneficial stuff, it’s best to have a list of services and resources that you think can help you survive college life.
As you scrutinize your town, try checking your school’s student services as well. Check the programs and perks that the school offers.
Within the next four years of your college life, a lot of things will change. After all, college is about mind-expanding experiences. Here, you get to discover more about yourself and what you want out of your life. You will meet new people with different views and different cultures. With all these new experiences, keep an open mind. Prepare yourself if you can. Attend town council meetings, watch foreign films, or even wear something outlandish. The goal here is to expand your thoughts.
Preparing for College Applications
Applying for college calls for a thorough effort. For the most part, this undertaking usually feels like an exam. College applications are generally
intimidating, but if you break it down into smaller tasks, it can help you go through the tough process of applications. Below are some actionable steps to help you prepare for your college application.
The reason why you need to forward your college applications at the earliest possible time ensures that the admissions office has received everything. This also avoids all the stress that comes with rushing at the last minute. Most colleges offer early admission plans. However, keep in mind that you are only allowed to apply to one early college admission at a time.
You can accomplish your college application via the conventional snail mail. Thankfully, most schools today provide online application options because these are quick and easy. There is a tool called Common Application, where you can easily track all your applications at the same time. Plus, you only need to fill out your information once, and you can use all these details to all your application. Other online platforms include the Universal College Application, the Coalition Application, as well as other school-specific apps. Of course, the forms you will fill out will depend on the school you are applying to.
Before you begin with your college application process, prepare all of your paperwork and documentation to avoid hunting for these when you’re in the middle of filling out forms. The basic documents needed are:
- Basic information and your social security number
- Completed FAFSA
- High school transcript
- ACT and SAT scores
- Advanced placement test scores (only if applicable)
- Recommendation letters (if required)
- Complete information about your internships, extracurricular activities, or volunteer works
Go over your application.
The information on your college application has to be proofread several times because this will make or break your chances of getting accepted. It’s wise to have somebody else double-check your paperwork and documents, too: your guidance counselor, teacher, or even your parents. Having other people to go over your application gives you more room for suggestions and corrections.
Although this will vary from each college, you may be required to write a personal essay or answer pre-determined writing prompts. With these, make sure that your output is free of grammar and spelling errors.
Finalize and submit your college application.
Once you have completed and double-checked your application, submission follows. During this final step, there are key things you need to consider.
Each college application submission will have an application fee (usually $50-$90 per application), so make sure you have already set aside these funds. However, if you were qualified for an ACT or SAT fee waiver, then most probably, your college application fee is also waived.
Letters of recommendations, transcripts, personal essays, and other key essentials of the whole application process may have different deadlines attached. Give yourself enough time for each of these factors to get into the proper hands.
You must also have copies of all your applications. Especially if you applied online, save your passwords and emails just in case you need to refer to them again. Duplicate also checks or receipts you sent to the school.
After everything is submitted, you should have a confirmation receipt. Applications sent electronically usually have generated emails saying they have been received. If the application is sent via mail, use a return receipt service to guarantee that your documents have successfully arrived at its destination campus.
Preparing for College While in High School
Back in the days, high school was nothing more than a voluntary activity designed to gear students for decent employment right after graduation. Your great-grandparents might not even have enrolled in high school! But today, high school is not only required legally, but the main purpose of it is to prepare you for higher education.
While it may not sound so important, the activities and academic performances you show during your four years in high school can hone you for your college life. This is the best time to explore your options, know who
you are, or start making independent choices. If you plan on getting into a university with a very selective admissions process and you wish to win scholarships, then you have to work very hard for it.
Below are helpful tips to prepare yourself for college as early as during your high school years:
Know your high school counselor.
One key factor to help you prepare yourself for college life is your counselor. Don’t wait until your senior year to start a relationship with your guidance counselor. They are there to help you go through the tough challenges of your years in high school, and they can help you create goals and draft plans to keep you on track.
Even if you are not yet so sure about what degree you will pursue college, your guidance counselor can help make a plan for your aspirations and future career. They are trained to do so, and they have the necessary connections and resources to make your choices easier and more realistic. Of course, at this stage, nothing is still permanently set. The goal here is to develop a solid relationship with your guidance counselor, so you get to have a smoother transition to college.
Know the prerequisites for your chosen degree.
When you already have a particular degree in mind as early as your high school years, find out the requirements to pursue that subject. A lot of universities focus on the core classes of math, science, English, or history; thus, it’s best to cover these bases early. However, you might need more coursework like advanced math or foreign language, especially if these subjects are relevant to your course ambitions. Check the requirements ahead of time if you can.
Discuss your year-by-year plan with your guidance counselor.
Once you finally set your heart into the degree, you want to study. It’s now time to draft an actionable plan. Find time to discuss with your counselor what your plans are, and together, create a four-year outline until you finally reach your goals. Creating a multi-layer plan guarantees that you will still have time to complete all the requirements without compromising your time to enjoy your high school years.
Your counselor should be able to help you summarize a flexible plan that outlines what needs to be accomplished every year to fulfill your goals. After all, you don’t want to end up with endless schedules of education requirements sans a much-needed break, do you? Making a four-year blueprint can spread out your tasks that need to be accomplished in baby steps, while still leaving you extra room to enjoy other activities and have a life in school.
Join extracurricular activities.
Did you know that college applications rich with extracurricular activities are very attractive to college admissions officers? These activities will help them understand and know your personality and how you can potentially contribute to the whole student body. These electives reveal who you are as a person better than grades, test scores, and numbers.
Most students have this misconception that playing sports give them an automatic ticket to the college of their choosing. However, this is not usually the case. In reality, colleges don’t care about what your electives are. Using this information, the academic panel will check for qualities like leadership, consistency, passion, and capacity to influence the people around you.
You can find hundreds of electives that will meet this college requirement. Keep in mind that nothing is too insignificant. Just do something that you can get immersed in and enjoy. Examples include:
- Civil war reenactment groups
- Community dance, theater, or comedy
- Civic activist groups
- Model railroading
- Girl scouts or boy scouts
- Political interest groups
- Martial arts
- Religious organizations
- Academic clubs
Enhance your skills in note-taking.
Listening and note-taking skills are very critical in college. In college courses, expect your professors to speak fast, and they expect you to follow along. Not like in high school, college professors are not used to repeating lessons or pausing their lectures just to let their students catch up.
In today’s technologically advanced world, most students rely on their smartphones and gadgets to record lectures. But experts believe that nothing still beats manually taking down notes. While it is very tempting just to jot down the notes on your laptop, experts argue that doing so also has drawbacks. The most effective way to remember the details in your lectures is simply to take handwritten notes.
Improve your speaking and writing skills.
There is a lot of writing in college! Prepare for this challenge by taking advantage of the many resources you have to ace your writing skills. Grammar and research skills are just as important, too! If you can write a term paper free from grammar errors, well and good. But if you are struggling to compose even a single paragraph essay, enroll in classes and programs to learn and hone those writing skills.
Furthermore, public speaking is also important in college. If speaking in public terrifies you, don’t worry, you are not alone. So many people have a fear of public speaking. Thankfully, you can find public speaking classes to hone your speaking skills. Joining your local community theater will help boost your confidence.
Sharpen your time management skills.
For the majority of your life, you may have constantly relied on your parents to help you with your time management. Come college life. This is a different ballgame. You will now be responsible for creating your schedule. Most college students initially think this newfound freedom is something they can handle themselves, only to be disillusioned in the end. Creating your schedule is harder than it sounds. Nobody is there to remind you that it is study time or tell you to get some sleep.
Therefore, it pays to sharpen your time management skills even before you go to college. Purchase a planner and use this to block your time for each of your daily activities. Stick with it and be consistent. Or, better yet, download time management apps to help you get on track.
Preparing for a College Interview
A college interview is a terrifying experience for all incoming college students. If you are petrified about your college interview, you are not alone. Even the most talkative and outgoing students still find this process a bit frightening. But to make the most of the situation, preparation is the key. Planning for this interview can help you significantly minimize your worries about the dialog.
But what is the main reason for a college interview? In a college interview, this is where the school you applied for will put a face to your college application. The interview allows admission officers to learn something about you than what is actually on paper like your interests, your hobbies, and your personality in general. College interviews also help them determine if you are a good fit for the student body.
Today, many colleges do not require interviews anymore. Especially on bigger universities, college interviews proved to be impractical considering the massive number of applicants they get. However, some selective colleges and smaller institutions still utilize college interviews. To check if your chosen college has interviewed or not, contact their admissions office.
Interviews usually happen on campus; however, some colleges send out admissions representatives in your area to make interviews as well. If you
are in for an interview, take it. When you participate in interviews (especially the optional ones), this demonstrates how interested you are to belong to their campus, thus increasing your chances to be admitted.
So, what are the usual college interview questions?
Tell me about yourself.
This is very basic and will always be the usual first question an interviewer asks. Make it count. Prepare a unique statement that will generally sum up something distinctive about yourself. Don’t use general terms and descriptions. For example, instead of telling them you are compassionate, level it up by explaining what boosts your level of compassion and its importance to you. Or instead of telling them how hardworking of a student you are, explain to them your study habits.
Tell them about the things that inspire you, like your activities and interests. Practice answering this question carefully, and if possible, ask for some advice from others to know that your statement will sound good and tell about who you are as a student.
Why do you want to attend this college?
This very critical question will show the interviewer the very core of your decision to attend their school. Your answer will demonstrate just how serious you are with your college application. Do a lot of research ahead of time so you can answer this confidently.
Also, you need to know in yourself what is the reason why you are attending their school. The more specific you are of the details, the better. Explain to the interviewer the unique reasons why you want to become a part of their institution. Do away with telling them about reputation and rankings (of course, they know that). Instead, discuss what pushed you to their school, its values, its culture, and how these things line up with yours.
Why choose this major?
The interviewer will want to find out your academic goals. Be truthful. Tell them what inspired you to take a particular course of study. Be clear and precise because this will show your genuine interest. Thoughtfully discuss the experiences that sparked your interest in choosing your major.
What are your strengths?
Colleges wish to find out where you will excel academically. So just don’t say, “I am good at math.” Thoroughly explain your academic strengths, how much effort you have exerted to sharpen those skills, and how you use these each day. However, do not limit yourself to your skills in academics. If you are good at sports, or you are extremely organized, discuss these as well.
What are your weaknesses?
Nobody likes this question. However, your answer can tell so many things about you. Universities and colleges want to find out how much you know about yourself, and that just like everybody else, you also have your areas of weakness. What they want to find out is how you can glide your way out in overcoming these challenges.
One helpful approach for this question is to cite one moment when your weakness got the best of you, and how you used your ability to manage the issue.
What can you contribute to our school?
For this question, remember to have at least two specific goals in mind that you wish to pursue while you’re in school. Do you want to assume a role in the school’s organization? Or do you wish to get involved in service projects? The more specific you get, the better. Avoid saying that you just want to earn good grades. Vague answers are big no-nos! Colleges prefer admitting students who they think can make a huge difference in their campus.
Where do you see yourself ten years from now?
You may find this question very frustrating. After all, you do not know the answer as of the moment. But here is a secret—a lot of people can never answer this question.
You need to understand that just because your interviewers throw you this question doesn’t mean they are expecting you to have your ten-year-plan worked out. What they want to evaluate is how forward-thinking of a student you are, and how you push yourself to achieve your goals. You can answer this question by avoiding indefinite generalities, like telling them you hope to have a rewarding career within ten years.
The best approach? Narrow down the activities that you know are achievable, believable, and realistic!
When you choose a college or major, everything has to be carefully planned. There are so many great resources you can find online to help you with your college plans. Ask around, speak to other students, and throw in the necessary questions. College may be challenging, but with the right preparation and sheer determination, everything will fall into place.