Campus visits involving tours, information sessions, and interviews are a vital part of the college process. If you have the financial resources, visiting a college in person can help you to determine if you can see yourself at the school and if it’s the right place for you. Asking the right questions during a campus visit is important if you want to make the most of your visit, and can help you to figure out information that you can’t find online or with other resources. Here are some helpful questions to ask during a visit.
What is it like to study your major at the college? Don’t ask if your major is offered–you can figure that out easily–but instead try to figure out what kind of resources are available for students in your field of study. You may also want to ask how easy it is to change your major, and whether most people chose to do a double major or some other form of studying multiple disciplines.
What is the learning experience like for freshmen? Do all freshmen take some sort of seminar or have a first-year-specific advising program? Do teaching assistants lead most classes? How large are classes for freshmen, on average? You may be able to find some of this information online, but if not, your tour guide or others will know. Additionally, you can ask about the transition from high school to college to get information about academic support for first-year students.
What’s life like outside of the classroom? Your tour guide may tell you what students usually do on weekends, but you could ask them what they did last weekend for a more specific idea! If it’s important to you, you may also want to ask about the presence of fraternities and sororities on campus–while the percentage of students involved in Greek life may appear large or small to you on paper, only a current student can give you an accurate impression.
How’s the food on campus? Your tour guide will know best about the availability/tastiness of eating options on campus and will give you an honest answer!
What’s it like to live in the local town/city/specific geographical region? If you are considering a transition to a rural or urban area from someplace quite different, only someone who resides at the college can give you an accurate impression of what it’s to live in the surrounding area. If the college is not in a city, you should ask about transportation services–such as public transportation, Zipcar (a car sharing service), or school-run shuttles–available to students.
How are health services at the college? You may want to ask about the resources the college provides for the mental and physical health of its students, such as if there are extra charges for using counseling services or making appointments.
Why did you choose this college? This is a great question to ask anyone you meet during your visit who is a part of the school’s community. This can help you think about your own reasons for choosing the college (or not). The tour guide or admissions representative answering your questions has usually chosen to represent the school to outsiders because they love it, so you’ll get passionate and interesting responses.
What would you change about the college if you could? Every school has its pros and cons, and again, the insider perspective is most valuable here.
Is there a lot of political discussion/activity outside of class? This will help give you an idea about the political/activist atmosphere on campus, which can affect your life greatly once you’re in college. Along these lines, you may want to ask about whether or not most people tend to read and discuss the main college publications (newspaper, etc), so that you can ascertain if students have a more formal area for discussion and opinion. You may also want to ask about specific extracurricular activities in which you are interested, to find out if these clubs and groups have an active and productive presence on campus.