Questions to Ask on College Tours
The US News recently published a list of 50 questions to ask on a college visit: https://www.usnews.com/education/best-colleges/articles/questions-to-ask-on-a-college-visit
I’d like to highlight and explain the importance of some of the questions!
Does demonstrated interest play a role in the admission process?
Make sure to take note of how the college answers this. If they say that they don’t track it, it’s possible that it’s true. However, be sure to check if it’s part of their official criteria for admissions. For some schools, it will still be categorized as “Considered” at the very least. In this case, be sure to sign up for emails and events, and open the emails! Some schools will send you a 1x1 pixel image in the email, and this is how they know if you opened the email. It’s a good idea to create a separate email address to keep track of all of your admissions and college-related emails.
Are interviews offered? Do students sign up for them? Are interviews conducted by alumni, students or admissions officers?
It’s important to know your responsibility when it comes to interviews, if the school offers them. Sometimes, you will be responsible for signing up, especially true if the interview is optional. By the way, if it’s optional, always plan on doing it. It’s also a good idea to know who will be interviewing you, and you can plan questions to ask the school as well, to really demonstrate your interest. Don’t forget that you are interviewing the school too! You might find out that it’s not the best fit for you.
How easy is it to switch majors or schools within the university? Are any majors restricted?
Many students may want to switch into a CS or Engineering school after being accepted by the university; however, there is an increasing number of schools and programs that no longer allow all students to switch majors freely. For example, at UC Santa Cruz, you must declare CS as your major as an incoming freshman. Think about how much freedom the school allows for you to change disciplines; most students will change their majors!
What types of research opportunities do students have access to outside of the classroom? What resources are provided to students who aren’t able to secure research with professors?
This is especially important at larger schools; usually, there will be immense competition among students to secure a research opportunity with their professors. It’s not uncommon to see students lining up outside of the professor’s office hours and hours before office hours to have a chance at working with their professors. If this is important to you, also reconsider the size of the schools you are applying to.
What do you hope to read about in student essays?
Be direct! Bluntly ask them what they want to see in your essays. They will be more than happy to tell you that they are probably sick of reading certain topics or themes again and again. They WANT to read interesting stories! Their job is to read; your job is to make it fun for them because that will make your application stand out, which is the first step of getting your admissions officer to vouch for you!