Updated: Apr 1, 2020
If you are visiting a college campus, the obligatory admissions session and student tour are part of the process. We recommend you attend these sessions but take your information gathering a bit further and request a meeting with a department head or a faculty member in your possible program(s) of study.
You can contact the admission department with this request or reach out directly to the department head listed on the school’s website. What can you gain from this exercise?
The school’s response to your request is telling. Are you welcomed with open arms, or as if you are standing in line at the MVA to get an appointment?
Gleaning information from your faculty meeting can reap benefits in your application essays, mainly if the school requires a “Why Us” essay. You can use what you learned to prove the college will put you on a path to achieve your goals.
The lowest-priced school is not always the best option, nor is the school with the highest price and pedigree. Use your research to understand which program offers the most substantial ROI.
Questions to ask include:
Do your professors hold office hours, and will they meet with you outside of class?
Are most of your classes taught by professors or teaching assistants?
Am I able to get my core classes so that I can graduate on time and avoid summer school?
Can you tell me about the academic advising offered within your department?
Are most classes lecture-based or discussion-based?
Can students take most of their first-choice classes?
Is much of the work collaborative with group presentations or 1:1?
Are there any on-campus tutoring centers or writing centers?
Are internships available, how does a student find them?
Can you tell me about how the career services department integrates with your academic program?
Remember, you are the client, and should interview the school as such. Think of a campus visit as a home inspection before settlement and you will be a much more savvy buyer.