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Choosing a College

Questions to Ask College Admissions Teams

Picture of Cecilia Grano De Oro
By Cecilia Grano De Oro on June, 16 2022 | 6 minute read
Heading into summer means a much-needed rest from the rigors of academic life! But, it's also a great time to engage with colleges and admissions teams.

Heading into the summer, high schoolers are usually excited about the opportunity to take a (much-needed) break from the rigors of academic life. But for upperclassmen (looking at you, rising juniors and seniors!), this can also be a time for college research and exploration, including by stepping onto a few college campuses, whether virtually or in-person.

Below are our recommendations for questions students should ask college admissions teams this summer!

 

Opportunities to engage with college admissions folks can take many forms -- at college fairs or high school college visits, through virtual tours/information sessions, or on-campus visits -- and connecting with admissions departments lets students ask thoughtful questions and get answers straight from the source! Now, you might be tempted to ask obvious questions about things like admissions stats (think GPAs, or test scores for schools that accept or require them), other requirements (essays, recommendation letters, etc.), or the school’s most popular majors. However, making the most of an opportunity to chat with an admissions professional means digging deep to craft questions that go beyond the information students might find on a school’s website (or Reddit, should students choose to tumble down that rabbit hole!).  

 

The types of questions future applicants ask when connecting with college admissions serve a few key purposes that will allow them to access helpful information when making important decisions about their college plans. By asking thoughtful questions, students will be able to:

  1.  Learn more about college fit (academically, socially, financially, and in any other ways that are meaningful).
  2. Demonstrate a high level of interest on the students' part by showing that they've done their homework and are prepared to be fully engaged in the conversation.
Even if a student is connecting with someone from admissions in a group setting (like a tour and/or information session), it’s still okay to ask school-specific questions that relate to their interests and future plans. But be mindful not to monopolize the time; everyone should have a chance to speak up (and, students should avoid using this as an opportunity to have an impromptu conversation about details of their own application or admissions chances). Students can always reconnect through a follow-up thank you email (which we highly recommend!), and ask any additional questions then (but keep it brief!)
 

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Looking for some sample questions about how to meaningfully engage with an admissions professional? Here are a few to kick off the brainstorming! 

Question #1: How does the curriculum encourage students to explore their intellectual curiosity? 

This is a great question to gain insight into how rigid (or flexible) a school’s curriculum might be. Does it make space for students to pursue their intellectual and academic interests in disciplines that may fall outside of their intended major or area of study/concentration?

Some institutions are more open than others to letting students follow a semi- (or loosely) structured path, providing lots of flexibility to create an interdisciplinary, highly individualized learning experience. Others can be more fixed in terms of courses and sequences that students are required to take, with some (limited) opportunities for out-of-major classes (and this may also depend on the major itself).

For students who are really in tune with their learning styles and are thinking about the academic high school experiences they’d like to mirror (or totally avoid!), this question can help them see whether there is alignment with what they’re looking for in their college learning experience. For example, some courses may rely more heavily on faculty-led, notes-based lectures rather than deep, guided discourse among peers, feature individual work vs. collaborative projects, or have a heavier emphasis on memorizing content vs. practical applications in the real world. 

 

Question #2: What campus opportunities, activities, or traditions can students participate in?

Remember, attending college isn’t only about the academic side of things -- students are spending a few precious years cultivating their scholarly interests, building meaningful relationships with faculty and peers, and finding their place both on campus and in the surrounding community.

College can be a long (and tough!) road for students if it is not a place that nurtures them intellectually and personally. Perhaps a student finds meaning in connecting with others, engaging in activities that are of high interest (and maybe even occasionally outside their comfort zone), and giving back to the community - if so, it's important for that student to ask questions about how an institution fosters those opportunities. Yes, they can always check out a college’s student life website to see what types of clubs and organizations are on campus, but hearing from admissions teams about common ways for students to jump in and fully embrace their college experience can give them an entirely different level of detail.

Oh! And this is also a great question to ask on a student-led campus tour, as they’re living college firsthand and are a great resource for honest feedback. 

 

Question #3: What type of support system is in place to guide incoming freshmen towards success? 

The transition from high school to college can be a challenging one, even for the most prepared student! While many high school students excitedly look forward to their college years, it’s important for students to remember that it’s a time for lots of change in terms of expectations, autonomy, and exploring their unique life path.

Stumbling along that path is (way) more common than a student thinks, but in the early college years, it’s easy to forget about the web of resources available to help keep students uplifted, motivated, and well-supported. High schoolers should be sure to ask about support services and how a college’s students are guided in the right direction when they need assistance -- whether that’s through help from an academic, tutoring or writing center, access to mental wellness resources, or simply the availability of faculty for extra help, tutoring, or feedback as they regain their footing. 

 


 

While these are just a few ideas about the types of questions to ask to go beyond basic website information, it’s okay to inquire about the qualities of an institution that will best allow a student to gauge fit for them. A student's entire self will be attending college (not just their brain!), so it’s important to dig into the ways that a particular college will (or won’t) check their must-haves. 

 

Looking for additional support with your application?

Here at Collegewise, we understand how overwhelming the journey to college can be. We've helped more than 26,000 students get admitted to their best-fit college and we'd love to help new families too! Click below to schedule your complimentary call with one of our expert program advisors and receive advice tailored to your family’s unique needs.

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About Us: With 20+ years of experience, Collegewise counselors and tutors are at the forefront of the ever-evolving admissions landscape. Our work has always centered on you: the student. And just like we’ve always done, we look for ways for you to be your best self - whether it’s in the classroom, in your applications or in the right-fit college environment. Our range of tools include counselingtest prepacademic tutoring, and essay management, all with the support of our proprietary platform, leading to a 4x higher than average admissions rates. 

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