As graduation season approaches, university campuses are a flurry of high school students making last minute visits and trying to sort through the options.
At each college you’ve visited, you’ve surely been doused with a flurry of brochures and told by dozens of admissions counselors how “our school is unlike any other.” And while this may be true, it can be difficult to get an unbiased view of the school at the ground level. What’s it really like to go there?
That’s why it’s important to talk to students already attending the college. From them you’ll learn what day-to-day life on the campus is like, as well as some helpful hints on which professors are the best and which classes you should avoid.
Here are five questions to get you started!
1. What do you like/not like about this school?
These two simple questions will often open up a wealth of information about the school’s strengths and weaknesses. If you ask several different students, you’re likely to get several different answers, but look for common threads running through all of them.
Things that come up again and again will more than likely affect your life should you choose to go there.
2. What do you think makes this school unique?
Every school has a unique selling point. Every student chose the school they’re at for a reason. Finding out what makes the school special will tell you quite a bit about what the university values.
Students may have a different answer to this question than admissions representatives or promotional materials – and their response may be something fantastic you never thought of before.
A school’s unique selling point will often factor into your unique selling point several years from now when you’re looking for a job.
3. About what percentage of students find internships?
The ability of students to land internships says a lot about how well the university prepares you for the outside world.
Admissions counselors may give you statistics, but students will usually know how many of their friends and dorm mates have or have had internships in their chosen field.
If they figure the percentage to be high, you can count on the fact that this school scores well in the career-preparedness area.
4. What would you change about this school?
No college is perfect. While a student may adore their chosen university, there is almost always something they would change if they could. While the answer to this question may not turn you off from attending the university, it will teach you a bit about its weaknesses. It’s important to know the cons so you can compare them to the pros.
5. What opportunities are offered in the surrounding community?
Find out what the relationship is like between the university and the community. Are there off-campus jobs available? Do students get involved in community programs and service days?
The school I go to, for example, is located in a small town with several after-school programs for local children. The students at my college are heavily involved in these programs, therefore bettering the school’s relationship with the community and the outside world.
Don’t feel bound to these questions – there are dozens more out there that can be just as exciting and informative.
Just remember that if you attend this university, you’ll be a student there, and the best people to tell you what that’ll be like are those who are already students themselves.