College visits are a great way to learn more about a particular campus and can influence your decision about applying. One of the crucial tasks to accomplish when visiting a college is getting answers to questions.
Think of a college visit like a reality TV show. The admissions staff are the producers, and their job is to make the college look appealing so more people give them money. Things are staged, exaggerated and don't provide the full picture of campus life.
To get a more accurate picture of the campus, you'll probably have to ask questions that make the admissions staff a bit uncomfortable. However, it's better to ask the awkward questions and get more information about the college.
What is the average debt that students leave with?
Ideally, you want as little debt as possible.
Are any/how many classes are taught by teaching assistants?
You'll be paying to gain information from these classes, so make sure you're getting your money's worth.
What preference are first-year students/transfer students given when signing up for courses?
Will you be waitlisted so you can't take the classes you want or need?
Do you offer guaranteed employment the day students graduate?
Don't ask what percentage of graduate students receive jobs. This is often based on how many students find employment within six months to a year after graduation. It may not be the job you want if employment is guaranteed the day you graduate, but employment experience in your field and an instant paycheck will help you find the job you want.
What kind of student would be unhappy at this campus?
Admissions will try their best to make their college sound appealing to anyone, but it's important to see if they know what kind of student doesn't belong.
Why is [insert another college] better than this one?
See if they're able to humble themselves, and take a break from boasting about their program
Why are you offering me pocket change instead of real money?
Unfortunately, some colleges don't offer as many scholarships, or the scholarships offered are minimal amounts compared to other colleges. Call them out and let them know if other colleges have offered more financial aid.
What preference are first-year students/transfer students given for scholarships?
This is especially important when looking at departmental scholarships. Admissions will tell you that there are several scholarships available, but what good are they if you don't have a chance of receiving them?
What is an essential life skill a person will gain from attending this college?
Some people will stumble over this question or provide an answer that doesn't fit the person you want to become.
What is one thing you would change about this school?
Watch for thoughtful answers instead of ones that don't address a serious problem.
What department here has the worst reputation?
This doesn't mean that the department is terrible, but it's something to consider if it's your field of study.
What is the number one complaint from students about this school?
Ask admissions, then ask students themselves to see if the answers are similar.
What percentage of students receive scholarships directly from this college?
Be sure to ask for the percentage instead of how many students receive scholarships. Two thousand students may receive financial awards, but that isn't a lot of people if the student body is 20,000.