Summer is the time when many high school students tour college campuses. But what are you looking for when you make the trek all over the US to find the best university? How do you determine if the place you will call home for four+ years is really the right place? Just because it's a beautiful campus does not mean it’s the right place for your young adult. This is your one chance to ask the tough questions, visit with the department staff, and talk to current students about what they enjoy and don't about the campus.
College tours bring back a flood of memories for parents and what they realize quickly is some things haven’t changed and some are much different. Let’s just talk about the size of dorm rooms and the amenities that cater to this generation. We recently received a letter from our daughter's college asking if she’d like laundry service for the year where they pick up, wash, fold, match socks, wrap clothing in a nice plastic wrapping and return to her even though they offer FREE washing machines. Let's just say that letter never made it to her!
A list was created by US News & World Report Education outlining 36 questions to use when touring campuses however I’ve added a few more which are important to consider so take this list with you when you go.
_____ What is your acceptance rates?
_____ What is the female to male ratio?
_____ How many students apply for early admission?
_____ What is important to the acceptance process regarding student backgrounds?
_____ What makes your university different from others?
_____ What is the percentage of Teaching Assistants teaching classes?
_____ How much time do students typically spend on homework?
_____ How much writing and reading are expected?
_____ What is the average class size of introductory classes?
_____ What is the average class size of upper-division courses?
_____ On average, how likely are transfer courses/credits accepted for dual credits to be used towards degree plans?
_____ What AP score is accepted?
_____ What opportunities are there for undergraduate research?
_____ How many students participate in undergraduate research?
_____ Is there a culminating senior year experience?
_____ Do you have an honors college? What does it mean to be in the program and what would be
gained by participating?
_____ Do you have a learning community or other freshman experience?
_____ Do they accept the VA benefits/Yellow Ribbon program if military dependent?
_____ What is your average financial aid package?
_____ What is the typical breakdown of loans versus grants?
_____ What percentage of financial need does the school typically meet?
_____ What is the average merit award?
_____ What percentage of students receive college grants?
_____ What is the average college debt that students leave with?
_____ What work-study opportunities are there?
Graduation Track Record
_____ What is your four-year graduation rate?
_____ What is your five-year graduation rate?
_____ What does it take to graduate in four years?
_____ What percentage of freshmen return for sophomore year?
_____ What is your "Destination Rate"? Defined by the how long it takes for a student, after graduation, to be employed, in graduate school or has join the military. This number should be high.
_____ What Freshman Success programs do you have?
_____ What type of tutoring program do you have?
_____ How do you provide academic advice to students?
_____ Do you have a writing center and how is it accessed?
_____ What kind of learning disability resources do you have?
_____ What support exists for mental health issues?
_____ How many students at the college get internships?
_____ What percentage of student’s study abroad? What is the typical cost?
_____ What type of career services do you have?
_____ What percentage of students graduate with a job?
_____ What does your Freshman camp entail?
_____ What kind of dorm choices are there?
_____ What percentage of students live on campus?
_____ How long are dorm accommodations guaranteed?
_____ How long are you required to live on campus?
_____ How many students live on campus?
_____ Do most students go home on the weekend?
_____ What percentage of the student body belongs to a sorority or fraternity?
_____ What activities are offered to students?
_____ Ask about student clubs that are important to you specifically and your ability to participate.
_____ What are campus security issues and how are they communicated to students?
The trend to take "college trips" is more common these days, however, I want to emphasis you can do much of your research online, saving precious dollars. Websites like CampusTours provide options to do virtual tours, gain critical information and get an overall feel for a university. However, I'm always surprised to hear how many students are making the decision on a university without stepping foot on the campus. I can't emphasize how important it is to visit the campus you are seriously considering.
This is such an exciting time so enjoy the experience, let your young adult lead the conversation and the best of luck on finding YOUR college home!