50+ Questions to Ask Before You Decide on a College

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Pursuing a degree can be a daunting challenge. There are a multitude of decisions and issues to consider. Before you become overwhelmed (to the point of paralysis), stop and take a deep breath. There are many who have gone down this path before you; a multitude of resources is literally at your fingertips to help you consider the important issues and help you make a wise decision.

The following set of 50 questions (+22 Bonus Questions!) to ask yourself and others is not exhaustive; it will provide some organization to your quest and help you work through all the decisions included in the process.

The primary questions are itemized in the middle section and geared toward an individual school you are considering. The additional questions are provided as a guide to help you identify a short-list of schools to consider.

9 Pre-Search Questions: Before you decide to attend College:

1. Why do I want to go to college?

2. What career path am I training for?

3. How far from home am I willing to go for school?

4. What can I afford to pay for college? Is financial aid a viable option?

5. What alternatives are available to get on my career track without college?

6. Will I work during my college career?

7. What environment do I want to go to school in (rural/urban/suburban)?

8. Will athletics be a part of my college career?

9. Do I want a large or small campus? Contemporary architecture or traditional?

When reviewing a particular school:

10. Will this school challenge me?

11. Is the program I am interested in accredited?

12. What is the level of safety of campus?

13. What is the Application Deadline? Is there “early decision” available?

14. What is the Acceptance rate among applicants?

15. What is the average GPA among applicants? Current students?

16. What is the Graduation rate? What percentage graduate on time?

17. What is the Transfer rate?

18. What is the percentage of Tenured professors?

19. What is the percentage of Full-Time professors?

20. What is the Teacher/Student ratio?

21. What is the average class size?

22. What percentage of classes are lectures (large halls) vs classroom?

23. At what point must a Major be declared?

24. What assistance or community programs are there for freshmen?

25. What is the level of interaction between students and professors?

26. What percentage of professors use Teaching Assistants?

27. What tutoring or study assistance programs are available?

28. How many undergraduate students assist in conducting research?

29. What majors have restrictions associated with them?

30. Are double-majors permitted?

31. Is there an honors program?

32. What is the typical workload for classes?

33. What is the employment placement rate?

34. What percentage of students continue to Grad School?

35. What can I expect from the Career Placement office?

36. What is the tuition increase rate from year to year?

37. What percentage of students use financial aid?

38. How much of the tuition/expenses is met by Financial Aid?

39. What is the split between loans and grants?

40. What is the average debt load a graduate has?

41. What percentage of students are in the Greek community?

42. What is the health and counseling system available for students?

43. What is the demographic picture of the student body?

44. What percentage of students live on campus?

45. What housing types are available?

46. Is campus residence guaranteed?

47. What activities are available to students?

48. How many clubs or other organizations are available on campus?

49. What is the student government structure?

50. What is the social environment on campus?

51. What is the school calendar?

52. How robust is the library? Are there good study areas available?

53. How much is technology used in teaching/studying?

54. How often is the school newspaper published?

55. Will I need a car?

56. Are there internships or work/study programs available?

57. With what denomination is the college affiliated?

58. Would you want to remain in the local area to work after graduation?

BONUS: Questions to ask current students:

59. What to students do for fun?

60. What groups dominate the social scene?

61. What is the balance between academics, social and extracurricular activities?

62. What were the highlights from last semester?

63. Is there an alcohol/drug problem on campus?

64. What food plans are available – specialty?

65. How up-to-date are the dorms?

66. Where is the social center of the campus (i.e. quad, pub, Student Center)

67. What does the local town offer for activities and events?

68. Does the Honor Code work well?

69. How happy are students (generally)?

70. What is the stress level among the students?

71. If you could go back in time, knowing what you know now, would you still attend here?

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