by Christal Holmes, Campus Visit and Communications Manager
As many high school students are gearing up for college visits during their spring breaks, it’s a prime time to get answers to questions that you’ve always had about your school(s) of interest. Before your first college visit, take a moment to sit down with your family and make a list of questions – some may be good to ask at each school, others may be school-specific – that you hope to have answered before you leave.
At most schools, you’ll have the opportunity to meet with admissions counselors, and/or academic department representatives, during information sessions that are conducted. They’re usually able to talk with you about the specifics of the application process, provide you with the freshman class profile, and discuss academic requirements for your program of interest. During the admissions information sessions, this is a great time to ask general questions that would pertain to the group as a whole. If you have specific questions about your (your students) application package or you would like to discuss circumstances that may affect the review process or admission, it is encouraged that you schedule a separate time to meet with an admissions counselor one-on-one when you don’t have to divulge personal information in front of a larger group. Even without an appointment, there is often a counselor available to meet with you at the conclusion of the information session or campus tour.
However, some of the most valuable resources that you have when visiting schools are the students that attend them. The first current student interactions for most visitors are the tour guides that show you around campus. These students often work for the school (either paid or volunteers) and typically have a close connection with the admissions office. While they may know many of the inner-workings of the office, and are trained to answer certain questions about the application and admissions process, they are not admissions counselors and may not be able to answer all specific or personal admissions questions. As you walk through campus, feel free to go up to the students and ask them questions – they’ll also stop along the tour to provide information and see if there are questions as they go along.
To gain multiple student perspectives about life on any college campus, you can rest assured that wherever there is food, there will also be students! What better place to sit down and have a casual conversation with current students than the dining hall or other on-campus eateries?! Over food, you can be sure that students will give you a true insight as to what the experience is like on any college campus. Whether you want to know more about housing, clubs and organizations, traditions, or the student experience as a whole, the current students that you meet at most campuses will be glad to share their experiences with you.
While there are hundreds of popular questions that we’re asked in admissions, here are just a few to get your list started:
- Is there a core curriculum or a shared freshman experience?
- Is there a summer reading program?
- Are there opportunities for undergraduate research?
- What are some of the most popular classes offered?
- Are placement tests required before entering the school?
- Do students have the opportunity to study abroad?
- Can students double major or declare a minor? Are there programs in which these options are limited?
- Is there a computer policy?
- What is housing like on campus? Is it guaranteed? (Some schools may allow visitors to go into their on-campus housing while taking the campus tour; guests can go into VCU’s freshmen housing facilities only during our Open Houses and Preview Day for Accepted Students.)
- Can freshmen have cars on campus?
- What is there to do on the weekend? On campus? In the city/town?
- What types of student support services are offered? Are additional fees associated with these services?
- What is a typical weekday like for students? How many classes, extracurricular activities, recreational sports, etc.?
Happy college visiting!!