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College Admissions: 6 Questions You Need To Ask On College Visits

Monday, February 15, 2016

 

With school vacations around the corner, families are packing up the car for road trips and campus tours. If you have a sophomore or junior in high school, now is the time to visit! Most families will sit obediently in information sessions soaking up what is said, but few will raise their hands and ask the tough questions. College is the second largest investment you will make in life, next to yourhome. So, here are the 6 most important answers you should uncover when you are on campus:

Question 1: What percentage of students graduate in 4 years?

A 5th year of college can bust your budget if you aren’t prepared for it. And with cutbacks, many students are finding it difficult to secure all the required courses in order to graduate in 4 years. So, ask about graduation rates and access to courses.

Question 2: What percentage of students return for sophomore year? Junior year?

This speaks to how happy students are with the college and also the support that they are given to succeed. If fewer than 80% of students return for sophomore year, it raises a red flag that you should dig deeper to understand why.

Question 3: Does the college offer merit aid, and what factors are considered when determining merit?

Take full advantage of college campus visits with the 6 questions you need to ask. Photo: Jeff Miller/University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Many elite universities only offer need based aid. Those that do offer merit aid may base it on grades, SAT/ACT scores, leadership roles, talent, etc. Also ask what the average award is and understand how you will be evaluated and how much you are likely to receive.

Question 4: How easy is it to transfer colleges within the university?

At medium to large universities, it can be nearly impossible to transfer from the College of Arts & Sciences to the College of Business or Engineering. So, you need to know what you want to study when you apply. At smaller liberal arts colleges, this is not usually an issue.

Question 5: What percentage of students who start in pre-med, finish in pre-med?

Colleges will often brag about the percent of students who are accepted to medical school, but if half are weeded out before they apply, that doesn’t bode well for you. You can also ask similar questions about the engineering or business schools, if that is your area of interest.

Question 6: What support are students given to secure internships?

Many colleges tout great internship programs, especially in a down economy. However, few have open and active positions listed in their career/internship office that need to be filled. In many cases, you are really on your own to find internships, get them approved and secure credits. Understanding where the college has relationships and active openings is critical. If all the opportunities are in engineering and you plan to be a journalism major, that isn’t going to help you much.

Campus visits can be overwhelming, but leaving without all the information is a mistake that can cost you dearly. So, take the time to uncover the real story behind the pretty presentation and marketing materials. You will make better decisions academically and financially if you know all the facts.

Cristiana Quinn, M.Ed. is the founder of College Admission Advisors, LLC which provides strategic college counseling, SAT prep and athletic recruiting services www.collegeadvisorsonline.com.

Article originally ran in 2013 

 

Related Slideshow: 10 Pieces of Advice for College Freshmen and Their Parents

Heading off to college can be a stressful time. To ease the anxiety, Cristiana Quinn, GoLocalProv's College Admissions Expert, has some sage words for children and parents alike.

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Students

1

Organize your dorm room items now, and assess what you need to ship vs. transport in the car. This will alleviate stress before you leave for school. Use a printable checklist for your dorm room, like this one

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Students

2

When you arrive at college, don't expect everything to be perfect. Your roommate, classes or sports team may not be everything that you dreamed of, and that's okay. Make the best of it, and remember that college gets easier after you adjust in the first semester. Stay in touch with friends and family from home, but transition to your new life. Don't live virtually (texting) hanging on to the past too much--live in the moment in your new community.

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Students

3

Textbooks are extremely expensive; save money by renting or buying used text at Chegg or Amazon vs. buying at the on campus bookstore.

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Students

4

Make sure you know where health services is on campus and the hours. Also, know where the closest hospital is, in case health services is closed. Visit the academic support center and learn about tutoring and study skills resources in the first week of school---BEFORE you need them.

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Students

5

Join at least 3 organizations or clubs on campus. This will give you a chance to meet a variety of people outside of your dorm and classes. Chances are that these students will be more aligned with your interests and values. Intramural sports teams, the campus newspaper, community service groups, political groups, outing clubs are all good.

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Parents

1

Don't hover at orientation and drop-offs. This is a difficult time, but resist the urge to linger.

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Parents

2

Get a healthcare proxy signed before your son/daughter goes off to campus. This is critical for students over 18, otherwise you will not have access to medical info in the case of and emergency (due to healthcare privacy laws). You need to be able to speak with doctors and make decisions remotely and quickly if anything happens.

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Parents

3

Expect some bumps in the road. Homesickness is normal, as are issues with roommates and professors. Be supportive at a distance. Never call a professor, and try not to text your child multiple times a day. This is the time to let them learn independence and more responsibility. They can deal with issues if you give them the chance.

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Parents

4

Book now for parent weekends and special events on campus for the rest of 2015-16 year. Hotels get overloaded during big weekends.

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Parents

5

Avoid pushing a major--this usually leads to unhappiness and causes stress in the family. It's good to provide students with resources, but encourage them to seek career testing and counseling on-campus with professors and the Career Center. Discuss options, but don't dictate or pressure students to select something too early.

 
 

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