With so much changing in the world right now, making plans to go to college can seem overwhelming. The good news is that there are people who can help you make your decision.
College admissions counselors work with potential students to help them better understand the college experience and how higher education can fit into their lives. Speaking with a college admissions counselor can be beneficial whether you already know you want to go to college or are simply exploring the idea, as they can explain the admissions process and give you more information about the academic programs and degrees you might be interested in. They will also explain the on-campus and online support systems that are available to you as a student. Consider asking your college admissions counselor the following questions to gain a better understanding of the experience that awaits you.
1. What Is the Classroom Environment Like?
It is important to know the general size your classes will be and how they will be taught. Many students entering college for the first time are used to in-person classes. At colleges and universities, in-person classes can range from eight to 500 students depending on the course. If you prefer a more personalized education, ask your college admissions counselor about typical class sizes so you know how many other students might be in a classroom with you.
Some universities focus on teaching while others focus on research. It is important to ask your counselor what the focus is at the universities you are considering. You may also be interested in participating in research or other hands-on opportunities as a student, so be sure to ask your counselor for ways you can expand your learning.
Many universities will also offer hands-on learning opportunities for undergraduates. These can range from cadaver labs to resources for helping students pursue relevant internships or jobs while still in school. Ask your counselor what resources will be available to help you learn in different ways.
In addition to on-campus classes, many colleges offer a large number of their courses online. If you are looking for some flexibility in your schedule, ask your college admissions counselor what percentage of courses you can take online.
2. What Student-Oriented Services Does the School Offer?
College is different from most other educational experiences a student may have participated in before. You may need some time and support in order to adjust to the new expectations and ways of learning. Ask college admissions counselors what student services are available to support you in the new environment. You may find that tutors, academic advisors and teaching assistants are readily available to support you academically. You may also learn about counseling and health services that can help you maintain a healthy mind and body during your transition to college.
3. What Kind of Financial Commitment Will I Need to Make?
While a college admissions counselor cannot answer all of your questions about financial concerns due to the private nature of family finances, they can let you know about some of the main costs associated with attending college and provide insight about financial aid and other scholarships. Ask your counselor if they are able to provide you with an estimated budget sheet so you can compare schools side-by-side.
You can also ask about renewable scholarships, a form of long-term and recurrent funding. Instead of a one-time scholarship, you may be able to receive a certain amount of money every year during your degree. Each renewable scholarship comes with its own set of rules and requirements, so consult with your counselor about the funding you may be eligible for and what guidelines are involved.
You may also wish to ask your counselor for a financial estimate letter. This content provides prospective students with a transparent look at the cost to attend the college or university, scholarship aid they may be eligible for, estimated federal aid and an estimated remaining balance.
4. Are Any Career Resources Available to Students?
One of the main reasons people go to college is to earn a degree that will aid them in their career. Therefore, many colleges offer career coaching or career placement services. Ask your college admissions counselor about job fairs, resume reviews and mock interview practices. In addition, the college may offer on-campus employment opportunities or have connections with local employers, so make it a priority to find out how you can work while you are in school and find work once you graduate.
5. What Do I Need to Know About My Academic Program and How Long it Will Take to Graduate?
If you already know what you would like to study, make sure you have a list of questions for your college admissions counselor related to that program. Some questions may include timelines for graduation, lab or internship requirements, or if the degree can be completed 100 percent online. You may also want to ask how previously earned college credits can transfer into the university and what kind of school and programmatic accreditations the university has. These questions show that you are invested in the school and in your education while giving you the chance to make sure that the program offerings are the best fit for your career goals. Your school may also offer the opportunity to speak directly with an expert from your program or field of study, so be sure to ask.
You can also ask if your program of study requires secondary acceptance, meaning that once you are admitted into the university, you may also need to apply for your specific program. Many degree programs do not require secondary acceptance, but be sure to double check with your counselor what your application process would entail.
It is also important to attend a college or university where the required courses are available frequently enough that it will not impact graduation dates. Many problems related to this can also be avoided by carefully planning your schedules ahead of time but be sure to check with your counselor about how the course offerings can impact your graduation.
6. What Do I Need to Know About Applying?
Before or during the application process, you can ask your admissions counselor what might make your application stand out. They understand the processes involved in reviewing student applications and may be able to offer valuable insight. You might find out that the school values online portfolios or checks social media before admitting students. The application process is also a great time to bring up scholarships to see what you may qualify for. Additionally, consider asking about fees associated with applying or when you can expect your application to be reviewed.
7. What Are My Housing Options?
Many universities require students to live on campus for at least one year. Housing options may vary from dorms to apartments and be available at different price points. Whether you plan to live on or off campus, be sure to inquire about your options and university housing policies with your counselor. Some additional questions you may want to ask, involve meal plans, housing costs, what to bring, safety and housing requirements.
8. What Activities Are Available at This College?
Many students decide which college to attend based on what extracurricular activities are offered, in addition to the college’s academic programs. Clubs and campus organizations can provide students with additional opportunities to develop academically, spiritually, physically and beyond. If you have a particular interest, ask if there is a club or team that supports that interest. The admissions counselor may be able to provide you with a list of available campus activities or clubs to aid you in your decision. If the school doesn’t offer a club that fits what you’re looking for, ask if it’s possible to start your own.
Some colleges or universities will also offer activities such as outreach programs and mission opportunities. Ask your counselor about how you can support the community while attending the school. If you join an outreach group, you could become part of a caring and likeminded group of individuals who are dedicated to making a difference outside of their studies.
9. Is This School the Right Fit for Me?
A college admissions counselor can tell you the types of students that are the happiest and most successful in the school environment. In their line of work, they see students with various personalities, learning styles and preferences and may be able to weigh in on whether the school appears to be a good fit for your needs.
One factor in your decision may involve campus safety. Ask about the area surrounding campus and what resources and institutions are available on-campus to keep students safe. If you think that a certain school may be a good match for you, you can ask your counselor about visiting the campus. Many universities offer guided tours to help prospective students get a feel for the layout, campus culture, amenities and more. You may even be able to meet other students and ask them firsthand about their favorite parts of their college experience.
Choosing a college is not an easy process, and while these questions may not cover all that you wonder about the college experience, they’re a good place to start. Consult with your admissions counselor but be sure to do plenty of your own research in order to make the most informed decision.
If you need help in narrowing down your college priorities, contact us at Grand Canyon University to learn more about programs and opportunities for students. Contact us today to get started on your journey to find your purpose.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University.