Use these college questions to help you decide which is the best college for you
If you’re a senior trying to decide which college to attend this fall, you’re well aware of the looming May 1st National Decision Day deadline. With only a couple of weeks left to go, you might be starting to worry about your college decision.
When you have more than one option available, you’re dying to know how to choose a college. Not only that, but you want to make sure you’re making the best choice for yourself.
Have you asked all the important college questions? Do you have all the information you need to make a good decision?
Picking a college is no easy task, but if you know the right questions to ask colleges, your decision becomes less difficult.
Keep reading to discover 44 college questions that will help you evaluate your college choices and choose the right college for you.
Where to find answers to your college questions
Before we jump into the list of college questions, let’s first identify the best sources to find your answers.
First, you definitely want to use the undergraduate admissions office as an information resource. College admissions officers are trained to know a lot about the schools they represent. They should be able to answer most of your questions about academics, financial aid, student life, and career resources.
However, sometimes you might want to ask your college questions to current students. They have up-to-date experience with student life and academics.
Many colleges hire student ambassadors to work in the admissions office, so you might be able to easily arrange a phone call with one. You might also talk to a personal connection—a friend of a friend—who goes to that school. Or if all else fails, find a current student on Instagram and send them a DM.
Lastly, you might have specific questions for college alumni. They can talk about their student life, academic, and financial aid experiences. But most importantly, they can share how the college prepared them to transition into their career.
If you don’t have personal connections with any alumni, I encourage you to find college alumni on LinkedIn. Even better, find someone who’s in the career field that interests you, since their experience will be most relevant. Send a professional message requesting permission to ask them a few college questions.
Now that you know where to find answers to your questions for colleges, let’s dive into the lists that will help you pick the best college for you.
College questions about academics
- What are the most popular student majors? What are the strongest majors?
- How accessible are the professors? Do they hold office hours outside of class? What is the student-to-faculty ratio?
- How many professors work full-time versus part-time?
- Who will be my academic advisor? How often will I meet with them?
- What is the average class size for general education classes? What about major-specific classes?
- Are classes primarily lecture-based or do they use the Socratic teaching method (more centered around conversation)?
- What are the available tutoring and writing assistance options? When can students access them and how often?
- How many students study abroad before they graduate? Where do they go?
- What opportunities exist for student research? How many students participate in research?
- What is the first-year student retention rate? (That’s the percentage of students who return to college their sophomore year.)
- What is the four-year student graduation rate? What about the five-year? Six-year?
College questions about financial aid
- How much does tuition increase each year? (This will help you determine your total college costs all the way to graduation.)
- How much do students spend each semester on textbooks? What alternative book options do students use to save money?
- Is there any more financial aid available that I could apply for? (It never hurts to ask!)
- Is all of my financial aid renewable? What are the qualifications to renew my grants and scholarships?
- What are the important financial aid deadlines I need to be aware of this summer? What happens if I miss one of these deadlines?
- What additional scholarship opportunities are available for current and returning students?
- How can I meet with a financial aid counselor as a current student? Will they help me manage my student loans and find new scholarships?
- What will happen to my financial aid if I take longer than four years to graduate?
- What is the average student loan debt at graduation?
- How many students default on their loans after graduating? (Defaulting on student loans means you miss a payment without qualifying for deferment or forbearance.)
- What happens if I miss or can’t afford a tuition payment during the school year? Will I be dropped from classes?
College questions about campus and student life
- What programs and events are offered to help first-year students transition to college life?
- What is the campus like on the weekends? What events and activities are available?
- How many students live on-campus? How many students commute?
- What are the different on-campus and off-campus housing options? Are there limits to which students can access them?
- How do students volunteer and get involved in the surrounding community?
- What are the most popular student clubs and organizations for students to join? How many students get involved in clubs?
- What leadership opportunities are available for first-year students?
- How do most students get around and explore the surrounding area? How is the local public transportation system?
- What counseling and mental health resources are available to students? Are they free or do students have to pay to access them?
- Where are the most popular places and attractions for students to visit off-campus? What coffee shops, museums, parks, and/or beaches do students like to frequent?
- How popular are intercollegiate sports? How big is school spirit among the student body?
College questions about career resources and preparation
- How are students connected to internship opportunities? How many students complete internships before they graduate?
- How many students work on campus and what types of jobs are available?
- What types of mentorship programs are available to students? Who can qualify to join?
- Do local employers recruit on campus? Does the college host any career fairs?
- What are the six-month employment rates for graduates?
- What are the biggest industries in the surrounding area? How does this college help students enter those industries?
- How does the career services department prepare students to apply for jobs? Do they offer resume writing assistance? What about mock job interviews?
- How many students go on to graduate school? Which graduate programs do most students attend?
- What resources are available to support students with their graduate school applications?
- How involved is the alumni network? Do they help new graduates get hired at their companies?
- What career resources are available to me after I graduate and become an alumnus?
Final thoughts about questions to ask colleges
Whether you’re deciding between your two final college options or having second thoughts about the school you’ve already chosen, asking these important college questions will help you gain confidence in your decision.
And if I can leave you with one final piece of advice, it’s this: the biggest factor that determines how much you enjoy your college experience is you.
Yes, there are plenty of college choices that will be better for you than others. But at the end of the day, if you’re down to a couple of colleges that you know are good fits for you, don’t overthink it.
Ask these college questions, then go with your gut. Enter college confidently, knowing you’ll make the most of your college experience.
I want to hear from you! What colleges are you deciding between? What answers are you getting to these college questions? Please drop a comment below!